Can't Believe You're Happy Here
Whitmer Thomas

Can't Believe You're Happy Here

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Label: Hardly Art

Sincerity is embarrassing. On Can’t Believe You’re Happy Here, a new 6-song EP out on Hardly Art Records, Whitmer Thomas plumbs the hilarity, and stupidity, of everyday life, sketching small scenes of loving, longing, and loserdom with a sense of unstuffy earnestness. Coming off the heels of his 2020 HBO special The Golden One (a wildly funny examination of family trauma, artistic failure, and pop-punk boys) and the accompanying LP Songs From The Golden One, Thomas found himself at a crossroads: was his love for music secondary to his comedy, or could it stand on its own? With Can’t Believe You’re Happy Here, Thomas proves the latter to be the right answer. Written largely on an acoustic guitar, often in hotel bedrooms during filming breaks, these six songs capture a sense of charmed innocence. Gone are the heavy synth lines, Ian Curtis-cosplay vocals, and high theatrics of Thomas’s last LP. In their place, Thomas constructs paired down pop tunes, laying out catchy and breathable melodies populated by cast of naïve, but ultimately endearing, characters. These songs are more like sketches than a series of set-ups and punchlines – they are slices of life, dwelling in a type of accidental, conversational humor. Working alongside Melina Duterte (Jay Som), who produced Can’t Believe You’re Happy Here, Thomas incorporated a variety of friends and musicians into the EP’s recording sessions, lending each song a sense of fluid, off-the-cuff energy. Thomas and songwriter Al Menne sing call-and-response verses to one another on “Best Love Song Ever Wrote,” while Christian Lee Hutson flashes his chops and upstages Thomas during an extended jam section on “Going Out To Eat.”

Rest assured, though, Thomas hasn’t gone straight – throughout Can’t Believe You’re Happy Here, Thomas still finds time to pepper in crass anecdotes about being “too sunburnt to fuck,” sticky restaurant menus, cum-stained bedsheets, and the simple pleasure of vaping in a basement. These bits aren’t meant as shock comedy, though. Rather, they have a sort of self-sabotaging, deflationary effect, giving Thomas’s more sincere reflections on love and life a sense of open honesty. On “Trevor,” Thomas fantasizes about living the life of a lay-about suburban boy, coolly quipping about how great it would be to “be a Trevor”over a simple, Big Star-esque chord progression. The track’s repeated, almost cursed-feeling refrain “how did this happen?” is intercut with light-hearted accounts about, in one instance, wanting to have some type of “cool secret” that’ll make people forgive you for being annoying, or, in another, wanting to crack open a couple energy drinks with your buds over a re-watch of Fight Club. On “Best Love Song Ever Wrote,” Thomas and his comedian girlfriend, Mitra Jouhari, co-wrote verses to impersonate what is, perhaps, the worst romantic couple ever. Initially tame-enough lyrics about not knowing how to read, or about needing your boyfriend to cut your food into smaller bites so you can eat, descend into straight up goo-goo ga-ga lines like “bed is for lay” and “sit is for chair.” On Can’t Believe You’re Happy Here, Whitmer Thomas leans headfirst into his own embarrassment, capturing the self-conscious silliness that accompanies any earnest attempt at chasing a dream. Life, he seems to suggest, is deflating, ridiculous, and can make you feel like a loser, but that’s often what makes the trip feel worth it – as Thomas and Menne croon to each other at the end of “Best Love Song Ever Wrote”: “I’m sticking with you ‘till your dumbass croaks.”

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