The question of the song’s title reflects the songwriting directness. It is a hallmark of AV Super Sunshine’s songwriting. They are notable for their ability and willingness to balance a need for self-expression, their first priority, with an obvious passion for delivering musical art to audiences eager for their contributions. Numerous outlets, other musicians, and reviewers laud their talents on a frequent basis and with ample justification. AV Super Sunshine releases “Are You Happy?” in three different mixes. The radio mix leads the way and arguably is the most mainstream version of the song, albeit longer than the rock mix, but the radio mix gears the song in a more modern commercial direction thanks to how they bring together electronic and live instruments together in a dense, yet intensely musical, performance.
They include a strong, yet simple, melody in the radio mix. A clear synth line carries the melody without ever sidelining other musical parts and its la of a heavy footprint proves one of the best decisions AV Super Sunshine makes in developing this song. It juxtaposes well against the rugged guitar parts and crisp drumming adding fills to the track. However, it isn’t a mix plunging straight ahead towards the song’s inevitable conclusion. They change gears at certain points scattered throughout the song and this design reveals just how much they know, as songwriters, about song construction. Strip this mix of its electronic factors and effects and it still works.
The same holds true for the vocals. The lead vocal shows listeners the way, for the most part, but there are crucial backing vocal contributions from band member Philomena along the way reaching their zenith with the song’s chorus and bridge. AV Super Sunshine does a superb job marrying the vocals with the radio mix musical arrangement and they play off each other in a way certain to ensnare new fans and keep them coming back for more.
The club mix of the song has a near epic duration of over six minutes, but it never tests listener’s patience. AV Super Sunshine develop this take on the song with much more patience and deliberation than we hear in the alternate versions and the synth melody present in the radio mix takes a little longer to announce itself. The rock mix, however, is punchy and makes its point with a minimum of fuss.
This is AV Super Sunshine stripped clean of any musical trickery and performing the track with palpable love for the rock style. Synths are missing from the rock mix, but there are keyboards present bringing more musical color to the song. The vocals are a highlight here, especially Philomena’s contributions to the song. If the remaining songs on Candyland Vol. 1 exhibit the same creativity and boundless inspiration as “Are You Happy?” we are in for a real treat when we have the opportunity to hear the album in full. The laurel leaves and fulsome praise greeting each new release is far from hype; instead, I read it as evidence of a band on the rise.