Mark Mulcahy formed Miracle Legion in the mid-'80s. Initially deemed another in the wave of R.E.M. clones, the band signed to Rough Trade and produced a trio of shimmering efforts that both embraced the jangle of the time and delved deeper into a more coherent emotional abyss. The Backyard EP, Surprise Surprise Surprise and especially Me & Mr. Ray are hard-to-find treasures of alternative pop just begging for reissue. When he went solo, Mulcahy unwisely decided to go lo-fi. Fathering, his debut album, was painfully uneven--just his newly learned guitar and his always gorgeous voice. Thankfully, Happiness features a band (including longtime buddy J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.). Easily his best solo venture, Happiness finds Mulcahy no longer shying away from the kind of hooks and choruses that made his band so vital to begin with. Both "Cookie Jar" and "A Smack on the Lips" offer the ear candy fans will expect and the static simplicity Mulcahy has come to embrace.
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