Podcast Episode 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin

Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes' debut release 'Skin'. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There's lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey's favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.In the chat we reference 3  interviews that are worth looking into to get a rounder flavour of Joy. These gave us a better sense of some of the tracks, her background and a bit of old-fashioned entertainment … she's a great interviewee;'This City – Podcast – With Clara Amfo – Feb. 2020'gal-dem' interview – Oct. 2021'Diffus' interview – Oct. 2021Part 2 – 'Spin it' or 'Bin it'In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy's stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to 'spin it' or 'bin it';Joey's track selection is –  Ha ha by TyGuy's track selection is – Little More Love by A J TraceyNolan's track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat GirlDavid's track selection is – You Look Certain (I'm not so sure) by Mount KimbieA link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.Next MonthEpisode #20 will see us take a slightly different approach to the podcast. January is often a flat month for releases, rather than choose something that we didn't have our hearts in, we're each going to chose an album from the last 10 years (ish) for another member of the team.Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.   This Is Not Happening:Created by Joey, Nolan, Guy and David.Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.Twitter: @thisisnothapngInstagram: @thisisnothappeningpodEmail: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
  1. Ep 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin
  2. Ep 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of 2021
  3. Ep 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment
  4. Ep 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  5. Ep 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

Part 1 – Album of the Month

This Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes’ debut release ‘Skin’. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There’s lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey’s favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.

Joy Crookes announces debut album with title-track “Skin”

Part 2 – ‘Spin it or Bin it’

In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy’s stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to ‘spin it’ or ‘bin it’;

Joey’s track selection is –  Ha ha by Ty
Guy’s track selection is – Little More Love by A J Tracey
Nolan’s track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat Girl
David’s track selection is – You Look Certain (I’m not so sure) by Mount Kimbie

A link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.

Skin by Joy Crookes

If you’ve been reading the blog or listening to the pod then you’ll know that I love a debut. I’ve always been fascinated by the raw honesty of a debut and the breadth of ideas that they often bring. They’re often the culmination of everything that has happened to an artist up until that point. I think it was a Galagher who said something like ‘it takes you whole life to write your debut album … then the record company want another one 12 months later’. For Joy Crookes that ‘whole life’ was 22 years when she wrote and recorded this special debut album. However, ‘Skin’ is far from her first rodeo with 3 EPs and 13 singles recorded and released since 2016.

Joy Crookes was born in Lambeth and raised in Elephant and Castle, and moved to Ladbrooke Grove in South London when she was 14. During these teen years she taught herself the guitar and piano and started writing music, ‘I didn’t know then that this could be a proper job’. Joy went the You Tube route to self publish covers and then her own original music in what is now quite a common rites of musical passage.

In Oct. 2021 she released ‘Skin’. It’s 13 tracks, 42 minutes and is (all puns fully intended) … an absolute joy to listen to. Sorry. Whilst the album would mostly likely be described as nu-soul or something similar, the styles on show are vast, pop, soul, jazz, trip-hop shades of punk and even a track that feels like it could be a Bond soundtrack contender (To Lose Someone). The album feels really personal in a way that many records don’t, even when an artist in sharing their innermost turmoil. This feels like proper soul music, channeling her young (but old) soul. 

In some ways it feels very much like a debut album; there’s loads of ideas thrown into the mix, she’s obviously exploring a rich soundscape that she didn’t have access to on previous recordings and there’s a brash confidence in the way that she struts and spins through the album. However, Skin totally lacks the naivety that many debuts (including ones that I love) suffer from. As we found with Arlo Parks this time last year, the signposts for her future output are numerous. She really could go anywhere on the next album … if of course Sony let her.

So, hold on tight … cause … we need to talk about Amy. My skin is crawling from even raising the topic of Amy Winehouse as it’s the worst lazy criticism possible. But, I am sorry, there are valid comparisons. But when I make these comparisons, I mean them as the biggest compliment to both artists. I loved Frank. It’s right up there on my list of faulted but adored debut albums. I properly fell in love with Amy Winehouse when I heard Frank. I felt like I knew her. ‘Skin’ has exactly the same kind of raw personality as Frank. They are both at times heart breaking and at the next moment amusing and jubilant. The broad, lush, widescreen soundscape that is employed on Skin is at times reminiscent of Back to Black. Both artists sound nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. When I say this album reminds me of Amy Winehouse I mean it reminds me of all of the things that I love about Amy Winehouse.

Lyrically, this album is a monster. Joy Crookes is a STRONG songwriter. This album really demonstrates her talent across what are quite different tracks in terms of style and subject matter. Relationships, gender politics, family shit, politics, and London are all in the mix. She writes about all of them in a personal manner that never looks the other way, is heartfelt and often well humoured. There are 1 or 2 tracks where the standard slips a little (Wild Jasmine being the track that comes to mind) but the album is strong enough as a body of work to keep momentum.

If this album was released earlier … even a month or two  … I think it would have featured pretty high in my 2021top 10. It’s so easy to recommend to people. Thank you Joy, I’m genuinely excited to see what you do next.

Podcast Episode 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of the Year 2021

Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes' debut release 'Skin'. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There's lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey's favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.In the chat we reference 3  interviews that are worth looking into to get a rounder flavour of Joy. These gave us a better sense of some of the tracks, her background and a bit of old-fashioned entertainment … she's a great interviewee;'This City – Podcast – With Clara Amfo – Feb. 2020'gal-dem' interview – Oct. 2021'Diffus' interview – Oct. 2021Part 2 – 'Spin it' or 'Bin it'In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy's stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to 'spin it' or 'bin it';Joey's track selection is –  Ha ha by TyGuy's track selection is – Little More Love by A J TraceyNolan's track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat GirlDavid's track selection is – You Look Certain (I'm not so sure) by Mount KimbieA link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.Next MonthEpisode #20 will see us take a slightly different approach to the podcast. January is often a flat month for releases, rather than choose something that we didn't have our hearts in, we're each going to chose an album from the last 10 years (ish) for another member of the team.Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.   This Is Not Happening:Created by Joey, Nolan, Guy and David.Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.Twitter: @thisisnothapngInstagram: @thisisnothappeningpodEmail: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
  1. Ep 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin
  2. Ep 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of 2021
  3. Ep 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment
  4. Ep 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  5. Ep 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

This Is Not Happening‘s 2021 comes to an end with a look back at the many musical highs of a memorable 2021 and count down our top ten  albums of the year. Despite the many challenges musicians have been facing in making music in a pandemic, it’s been a truly exceptional year,  from the likes of Wolf AliceJapanese BreakfastArlo ParksBillie EilishThe Weather Station and many others, but there’s only room for one winner – who’s it going to be?

We’ll also be nominating our tracks of the year, from a very tough long list of amazing records. Here are our our 4 monster fave tracks of 2021, one from each of us, below. 

Guy: Feu! Chatteron – Écran Total
Nolan: Gheist – We Are Not Alone
David: Royce Wood Jr – Slush
Joey: Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

The full top 10s and playlists and all our music discussions over the last ten years can be found on the blog at www.thisisnothappening.net, which will run alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We’d love to see what you think.  You can also find our longer tracks of the year here on Spotify.


Episode #19 will see us take on one of 2021’s most underrated albums – Joy Crookes‘s incredible debut Skin –  and we’ll be delving deep into it in January. The episode will land in the second half of January.

This Is Not Happening:
Created by JoeyNolanGuy and David.
Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.
Twitter: @thisisnothapng
Instagram: @thisisnothappeningpod
Email: thisisnothappeningpodcast@whyohwhyohwhy

This Is Not Happening Albums Of The Year.

The Return of Mitski

Mitski – The Only Heartbreaker

We loved loved loved Mitski’s Be The Cowboy in 2018, and she’s back with a new album – Laurel Hell – in February 2022. Before this lands there’s a fantastic new EP, which takes in 3 sumptuous tracks including this upbeat, synth and guitar-pop of The Only Heartbreaker. Roll on next year!

Podcast Episode 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment

Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes' debut release 'Skin'. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There's lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey's favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.In the chat we reference 3  interviews that are worth looking into to get a rounder flavour of Joy. These gave us a better sense of some of the tracks, her background and a bit of old-fashioned entertainment … she's a great interviewee;'This City – Podcast – With Clara Amfo – Feb. 2020'gal-dem' interview – Oct. 2021'Diffus' interview – Oct. 2021Part 2 – 'Spin it' or 'Bin it'In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy's stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to 'spin it' or 'bin it';Joey's track selection is –  Ha ha by TyGuy's track selection is – Little More Love by A J TraceyNolan's track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat GirlDavid's track selection is – You Look Certain (I'm not so sure) by Mount KimbieA link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.Next MonthEpisode #20 will see us take a slightly different approach to the podcast. January is often a flat month for releases, rather than choose something that we didn't have our hearts in, we're each going to chose an album from the last 10 years (ish) for another member of the team.Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.   This Is Not Happening:Created by Joey, Nolan, Guy and David.Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.Twitter: @thisisnothapngInstagram: @thisisnothappeningpodEmail: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
  1. Ep 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin
  2. Ep 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of 2021
  3. Ep 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment
  4. Ep 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  5. Ep 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

Episode 17 of This Is Not Happening follows Billie Eilish’s memorable new album with a slice of classy electronic music from Irishman Mano Le Tough. Dubliner turned Zurich resident Niall Mannion’s third album At The Moment  saw him expand his musical horizons in lockdown, and we all got to stand back and say what it meant to us. Nolan was at the tiller this month.

In the second half of the episode, we go to the movies, picking out our favourites from original music in films, and it was a beautiful conversation blending our love for the silver screen with our love for music. Here’s our shortlist, and longer lists from Guy and David.  It was an absolute joy doing this month. The tracks we chose were:

Nolan – Jose Gonzalez – Stay Alive (from The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty in 2013)
Joey – Public Enemy – Fight The Power (from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing in 1989)
Guy – Clint Mansell – Welcome To Lunar Industries (from Duncan Jones’ Moon in 2009)
David – Justin Hurwitz – City Of Stars / May Finally Come True – La La Land (2016)

November’s album of the month and all our tracks, playlists, and chat from our last decade or more can be found on our blog at www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and all sorts more. Head down there and hopefully you’ll find more stuff to like. We’d love to hear from you on the socials (links below).

Episode #18 arrives with our favourite month of the year with of our review of 2021. We’ll be picking out our favourite Top 10 albums, and tracks of the year. Not too long to wait!

This Is Not Happening:
Created by JoeyNolanGuy and David.
Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.
Twitter: @thisisnothapng
Instagram: @thisisnothappeningpod
Email: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
Reviews: www.ratethispodcast.com/thisisnothappening

Podcast Episode 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes' debut release 'Skin'. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There's lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey's favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.In the chat we reference 3  interviews that are worth looking into to get a rounder flavour of Joy. These gave us a better sense of some of the tracks, her background and a bit of old-fashioned entertainment … she's a great interviewee;'This City – Podcast – With Clara Amfo – Feb. 2020'gal-dem' interview – Oct. 2021'Diffus' interview – Oct. 2021Part 2 – 'Spin it' or 'Bin it'In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy's stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to 'spin it' or 'bin it';Joey's track selection is –  Ha ha by TyGuy's track selection is – Little More Love by A J TraceyNolan's track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat GirlDavid's track selection is – You Look Certain (I'm not so sure) by Mount KimbieA link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.Next MonthEpisode #20 will see us take a slightly different approach to the podcast. January is often a flat month for releases, rather than choose something that we didn't have our hearts in, we're each going to chose an album from the last 10 years (ish) for another member of the team.Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.   This Is Not Happening:Created by Joey, Nolan, Guy and David.Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.Twitter: @thisisnothapngInstagram: @thisisnothappeningpodEmail: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
  1. Ep 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin
  2. Ep 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of 2021
  3. Ep 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment
  4. Ep 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  5. Ep 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

Episode 16 of This Is Not Happening goes as big as it gets with Billie Eilish’s new album, Happier Than Ever.  Following angular synth and guitars of Lonelady in episode 15,  we take an album that’s already one of the most talked-about of the year, and delve into what it means for us, and the music world. David is bringing us this album.

In the second half of the episode, we go for intros, and pick out some of our favourite opening tracks of the albums we love. It’s a mighty list, and we’ve also had some cracking shortlists from Guy here. The tracks we chose were:

Joey – Bjork – Human Behaviour from Debut (1993)
Guy – Etienne De Crecy – Le Patron Est Devenou Fou! – from Super Discount (1996)
David – Bill Withers – Harlem – from Just As I am (1971)
Nolan – A Tribe Called Quest – Excursions – from The Low End Theory by Tribe (1991)

October’s album of the month and all our new tracks, playlists, and chat from the past decade or more can be found on our blog at www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. Head down there and hopefully you’ll like what we’re talking about and if you do, we’d love to hear from you on the socials (links below).

Episode #17 arrives with a nod to the dancefloor from Nolan, who picks Dublin artist Mano Le Tough’s At The Moment. This next episode will be landing before the end of November ahead of our review of the year in December.

This Is Not Happening:
Created by JoeyNolanGuy and David.
Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.
Twitter: @thisisnothapng
Instagram: @thisisnothappeningpod
Email: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
Reviews: www.ratethispodcast.com/thisisnothappening

Album of the Month November – Mano Le Tough: At the Moment

Mano Le Tough, Irish-born Niall Mannion’s career within Dance music has been one that all young music fans dream of. Initially stepping into the realm of dance music after toying with indie music in his teens he was quickly discovered (within minutes) of posting his first tracks on myspace by indie disco stalwart Tensnake in 2007. Soon after he moved to Berlin and quickly built a musical and DJ led following that most would dream of. Combing through his back catalogue, though at times limited, quality his always prevailed and so has his reputation.  This from Pampa Records sums up their artist to a tee: living alongside sought after personal singles, two full length albums, and remixes for, among others, The Pet Shop Boys, Roisin Murphy, Caribou and Erol Alkan, Mano became one of Europe’s most in-demand DJs, with headline performances across the continent’s dancefloors and the world’s biggest music festivals. Since early 2020, however, he’s been at home, attempting to channel inspiration from eighteen months without live music, amid the anxiety of a global pandemic’.

Any self proclaimed forward thinking dance music wanker like myself will point out that Mano Le Tough is one of the most consistent producers when creating adventurous dance records. In short the hipster dance geeks think he’s pretty special. His 2014 Boiler Room set is one of my most listened to DJ mixes. He has a slew of others that I regularly revisit. He’s a DJ that anyone serious about dance music should see at least once in their life, though this should not be a precursor to this album as this album takes you on  journey that at times would create dance floor moments but is more moulded to more laid back situations with a rear view on the dancefloor.

Last year we discussed on the podcast about music that was being made in lockdown and what the music would sound like. Like last months’ album, we’re starting to see the fruits ripened from 18 months of isolation. Largely hashed out in early 2020 from demos and new ideas you get the feel that this is an album of calmness away from the constant travel and DJing in the worlds best clubs every weekend. Mannion has mentioned in a couple interviews that not having his foot in a club every weekend let him to push himself beyond the traditional 4/4 structure that the majority of his previous releases always came back to. One interesting point is that Mannion is often overlooked for both his vocals and indie tinged tracks within dance music, which both shine throughout this album. 

We talk a lot about album order and the sequencing of tracks. After the masterclass of Billie Eillish, this too isn’t far away from perfection, though this is more like a perfectly arranged mixtape and less an overall piece of work. The length is hefty, 50 minutes and 12 minutes long. Although I can hear brother Joseph knocking his head on his kitchen table in Chorley at the length, I firmly believe that this won’t be an issue for him as the flow of this album is seamless. For Joey, the deep guitar lead dance feels will undoubtedly sit perfectly in his wheel house.

‘Aye Aye Mi Mi’ may be one of my tracks of the year and I suspect it’s got something in it for us all. I imagine dropping this in a back room somewhere with all four of us in attendance. I can imagine David doing a funny dance to it, Joey giving me his ‘what is this’ bass face, and Guy popping up his head whilst chewing the ear off of someone to swiftly lift his fist in approval. It’s an all-rounder that sits well in most places at most times.

From the psychedelic trip hop of ‘Moment to Change’ to the optimistic dreaminess of ‘Fado Fado’ and ‘Short Cuts’ and deep tinged dance bangers like ‘Pompeii’ and ‘So Many So Silent’ there’s more than enough to peak any music fans interest and keep them interested throughout the 50 minutes. Trying to pinpoint what this album is will be something that I think all of us will struggle to pigeonhole within a genre.

Although there have been similar albums within the realm of this album released recently, most notably new efforts by the Joy Orbison and Darkside, this album has connected with me the most. Perhaps the well woven slowdown sounds have moulded perfectly with the autumnal / early winter feels that I’m adapting to. That combined with the feeling that the likes of Caribou, LCD Soundsystem and Four Tet are all cut from the same cloth makes this album irresistible.

When explaining this album, it’s hard to pinpoint. Is it dance, is it indie, is it ambient, is there a point in categorising it? Whilst writing this I’m trying to get my head around why I love this album so much? ‘No Road Without a Turn’ perhaps sums it up best for me. It’s unexpected, full of emotion, it constantly evolves throughout. Both the song and the album, is something that everyone should have in their lives.

OCTOBER: Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish

This album is currently or has been number one in over 20 countries. Eilish is genuine, bona fide A list pop star – she sits alongside the Taylor Swifts and Lady Gagas at the top table. Her clothes, her love life, her age, her gender, her fanbase, her lyrics and her career in general have all been dissected over and over again by the press and also by her fans. This is an album about what that feels like. Perhaps that’s not so strange – plenty of of pop stars have sung about life in the fast lane. But what is strange is what Happier Than Ever represents. Eilish is a pop star who makes pop music. You all know I’ll defend the P word to my death. But what extraordinarily INTERESTING place pop music has gone in the last decade or so. Sure, it’s been heading that way for quite a while – but it’s certainly a long way from the Pussycat Dolls and Girls Aloud to this album. It’s the total antidote to those artists. It’s not manufactured, there is no ‘persona’ that Eilish appears to hide behind, and the entire album is not written by a team of crack songwriters, with a list of producers as long as the tracklist. The whole thing, from songwriting to production, was made by Eilish and her producer brother, Finneas. Not a single other musician plays on the entire album.

So if it’s not pop in the old-fashioned sense, then what is it? Well – Happier Than Ever is intimate, downbeat, incredibly personal, political, angry, frustrated, passionate, world-weary, poetic, sexy, goofy and funny. And that’s just off the top of my head. It’s also as tightly constructed as a piece of Swiss watch-making, and it has the best sequencing of any album I’ve heard this year. I’ve tried to find flaws, but dammit, I’m having to look very hard. In short, it is FUCKING AMAZING.

What’s really interesting is what a rich, satisfying listen this is despite the aural palette of the album not really being that wide. Songs tend to come in two flavours – the first is somewhere between synth ballad and pastoral folk (Getting Older, Billie Bossa Nova, Everybody Dies) and sultry, stripped-back grooves with a hint of darkness and even foreboding (I Didn’t Change My Number, Lost Cause, Oxycontin). It’s hardly an upbeat album, but it certainly feels like a more mature and emotionally diverse offering than her first record, brilliant though her debut was by anyone’s standards. So why does this palette work so well on this record? Because it’s a journey. Because each song is a perfect, self-contained composition that’s been crafted beautifully – but then sequenced on a record that takes us through a giant walk through Eilish’s life right now.

We kick off with Getting Older, a rumination on what she’s about to explore through the album – how she can see herself growing, where she’s finding self doubt, trying to process the things that have already happened to her – and then suddenly ending with the bullet of the last extraordinary couplet –

I’ve had some trauma, did things I didn’t wanna
Was too afraid to tell ya, but now, I think it’s time

And then she does. A toxic (former?) relationship in I Didn’t Change My Number – which she returns to in the title track Happier Than Ever; a secret new relationship on Billie Bossa Nova that’s then referenced again in the incredible NDA, then a beautiful act of self-love and hope in My Future (one of the highlights on the album for me). On we go through lust (Oxycontin), before we really get into the meet of the record – Eilish confronting the abuse that is endemic in the industry. She touches on this repeatedly in Goldwing and the angry, brilliant Your Power. I’m trying to imagine a pop album 10 or 20 years ago that could have a track like Everybody Dies, a song that genuinely explores the fear of death. Sound of the Underground it ain’t.

And then there’s the album’s mid point, a moment turns the question right at the listener on Not My Responsibility do you know me? Really know me? Of course we don’t, despite her sharing herself right in front of us. She lays it out. This is what it feels like to be judged constantly. Would you like me to be quiet? There are plenty of artists exploring the notions of what its like to a woman in this universe, but honestly, I don’t think anyone is working at this level. That’s another thing we should discuss – the lyrics. They’re consistently brilliant, sharp, funny – they elevate the already gorgeously constructed melodies into a miniature portrait of entire story, time and time again.

So how come this downbeat, at times almost folky album doesn’t come over like Taylor Swift’s Folklore? I think the simple answer is that Eilish isn’t using the genre as a crutch to create something slightly artificial. Swift – who I actually really like – always feels like she’s calculated her every more down to the last carefully arranged artfully hung woollen cardigan. Eilish feels like this is the music that’s in her head and has come out of her mouth. The lack of gap between her work and the listener is surely one of the reasons this works so well.

Finally, a word on the production. It’s genius. Those hypnotic synths, that slightly narcotic quality to the washed-out electronic sounds. And then Billie’s voice itself – so close to your ears, it’s like she’s whispering into them. I wonder if she’s used that same crazy Binaural head mic that Perfume Genius used on No Shape. It reminds me hugely of that intimacy mixed with very emotional electronica. God it’s good.

Something to share as we think about our response to this record….For some reason, YouTube’s not allowing me to embed any of the songs from album – but it is allowing to embed this extraordinary conversation below – ‘When Billie Met Stormzy’. Apart from it being a total joy to watch two such engaging stars who clearly have such a love for each other’s work (in particularly, Stormzy fanboying over Eilish is just gorgeous), it’s fascinating to see two artists recognise the other’s care and craft in their work. They’re not where they are by accident. They’re both so talented, they’re almost freakishly so by normal human standards. So it’s easy to think that Eilish might not be the real thing because she’s so young or that she’s secretly propped up a production team. The opposite is of course true, as this interview reminds us – she got signed when she was 14 because she is just INSANELY talented.

Happier Than Ever is, by surely anyone’s definition, one of the albums of the year. Indeed, it might well be my album of the year. I mean, what else could really be this well-realised, this articulate, this full of incredible song, giant hooks, intimate whispers?

Man, I’m overheated, can’t be defeated
Can’t be deleted, can’t un-believe it.

We’d better believe it. Bille Eilish is here to stay for a long time. This is only the next step on her journey, but what a fucking step it is.

Podcast Episode 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

Part 1 – Album of the MonthThis Is Not Happening kicks off the New Year with a great album from the end of 2021, Joy Crookes' debut release 'Skin'. We discuss our expectations and reactions, similarities between this album and a certain other soul singer from London and get deep into our favourite tracks from the album. There's lovely point of pod-synergy when Nolan predicts with 100% accuracy Joey's favourite track and more impressively, the reason for this selection.In the chat we reference 3  interviews that are worth looking into to get a rounder flavour of Joy. These gave us a better sense of some of the tracks, her background and a bit of old-fashioned entertainment … she's a great interviewee;'This City – Podcast – With Clara Amfo – Feb. 2020'gal-dem' interview – Oct. 2021'Diffus' interview – Oct. 2021Part 2 – 'Spin it' or 'Bin it'In the second part of this episode we take inspiration from Joy's stomping ground and we all bring a track from South London that we love.  Each of us introduce our track and ask the others if they want to 'spin it' or 'bin it';Joey's track selection is –  Ha ha by TyGuy's track selection is – Little More Love by A J TraceyNolan's track selection is – Sad Cowboy by Goat GirlDavid's track selection is – You Look Certain (I'm not so sure) by Mount KimbieA link to a mini-Spotify-playlist of these 4 tracks can be found here.Next MonthEpisode #20 will see us take a slightly different approach to the podcast. January is often a flat month for releases, rather than choose something that we didn't have our hearts in, we're each going to chose an album from the last 10 years (ish) for another member of the team.Other episodes of the pod and 10 years of the blog;If you enjoyed this episode, please check out the others. If that's not enough for you then there's 10 years worth of music discussion on the blog at http://www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. So check them out so to see what we like and where we clash, and comment if something catches your eye. We'd love to see what you think.   This Is Not Happening:Created by Joey, Nolan, Guy and David.Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.Twitter: @thisisnothapngInstagram: @thisisnothappeningpodEmail: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
  1. Ep 19 – Joy Crookes – Skin
  2. Ep 18 – Our Top 10 Albums of 2021
  3. Ep 17 – Mano Le Tough – At The Moment
  4. Ep 16 – Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  5. Ep 15 – Lonelady – Former Things

Episode 15 of This Is Not Happening heads to the north west of England with Manchester artist Lonelady’s third album, Former Things. After the heart-on-sleeve shogazey pop of Japanese Breakfast‘s Jubilee, Julie Campbell’s solo guitar/drums/synth template brings 8 tracks of post-punk, electronic fusion, with Guy at the helm!

In the second half of the episode, we stay in Manchester, each bringing a track from the city’s fabled music history to the table. Our shortlist is here, and Guy’s longlist lives here. Stick around and see what we thought of the picks:

Guy  – Zoe Abalone – Vortex
David – Paris Angels – Perfume
Joey – Pip Milett – Hard Life
Nolan  – Mr Scruff v Cyberpunks – A Space Disco Remix

September’s album of the month and all our new tracks, playlists, and chat from the past decade or more can be found on our blog at www.thisisnothappening.net, which runs alongside the podcast choices and much, much more. Head down there and hopefully you’ll like what we’re talking about and if you do, we’d love to hear from you on the socials (links below).

Episode #16 comes in the shape of Billie Eilish’s new album Happier Than Ever as David bring his pop-beingness back to the fore. That next episode will be landing before the end of October.

This Is Not Happening:
Created by JoeyNolanGuy and David.
Produced and Edited by Guy and Nolan.
Twitter: @thisisnothapng
Instagram: @thisisnothappeningpod
Email: thisisnothappeningpodcast@gmail.com
Reviews: www.ratethispodcast.com/thisisnothappening