Mark Mallman's new album, Happiness, is a companion and reflection on his uplifting and poetic book, "The Happiness Playlist".
Mark Mallman's new album, Happiness, is a companion and reflection on his uplifting and poetic book, "The Happiness Playlist". In the book's foreword, famed rock critic and popular culture examiner Chuck Klosterman describes Mark Mallman as "legitimately original, exclusively motivated by a desire to conquer the strange obstructions he builds inside his mind."
True to form, his complex meditation nods to fellow Minneapolitans who have amassed international reach. Prince, The Hold Steady, Lizzo, and Hüsker Dü are all enthusiastically represented in the SNA of Mallman's latest work. Happiness has something for everyone – and he is happy about it.
As a songwriter with a BFA degree in multimedia performance art, Mallman has broken new ground by singing via telepresence robot, EEG MIDI brain control music, the world's first transcontinental musical webcast, and non-stop, non-sleep marathon performances (the longest spanning 78 hours). While this conceptual work garnered him praise from media outlets around the globe, Mallman returns to form in what he does best, which is songwriting.
What may seem ironic at first – that an album called Happiness contains some of Mallman's saddest material to date – was deliberate. "What I learned from writing and speaking about the subject in the last four years is that love is not love without isolation, excitement is not excitement without calm, and happiness is not happiness without sorrow. All of those things, make up this collection of songs, and all of these songs make up another group of true stories."
After the passing of long term mixing collaborator Ed Ackerson (mixer: The Replacements) in 2019, Mark chose to work with several engineers on the record's essential last step. It was mixed by John Fields (mixer: Jonas Brothers). Aaron Cupping (mixer: Tropical Fuck Storm), Adrian Olsen (mixer: Foxygen) among others. The psychedelic ballad "We Are We" features guest guitar by Deerhoof member Ed Rodriguez.
Mallman's stage persona precedes him, but stepping back one sees a stunning body of recorded work. his expansive catalog of indefinitely emotional and masterfully orchestrated songs has been blasted over airwaves worldwide from MTV to NPR. USA Today, Wired, NME have all sung his praises. His ninth full-length album comes fresh off the heels of a widely-adorned memoir on happy music as medicine against grief and anxiety.