Some bands are destined to draw scrutiny or confusion regardless of their direction. Complacent regurgitation of familiar sounds will be met with a collective shrug and the nodding of some heads just as a wild shift in sound will cause people to lament a loss of touch. It seems that The Body, who spend more time releasing albums with other collaborators than on their own, are damned no matter what they do. With their newest album, No One Deserves Happiness, they turn that damnation into the world’s most hellish dance party, and regardless of how it hits you, you’re not going to be able to listen to it without it eliciting some kind of extreme response.
While opener “Wanderings” has a mournful pace and structure that might seem like one of The Body’s bizarre yet familiar territories, it actually sets the stage for an album rife with programmed percussion, howling and ethereal vocals, and bizarrely placed synthesizers and electronics that clash directly and viciously with The Body’s patented shrieking, churning formula of fucked up noisy sludge. Does this sound confusing? It feels confusing to listen to, yet it also feels like one of the only logical directions for a band who has spent nearly twenty years crafting the most uneasy sounds with the most seemingly effortless assembly. At times, such as on “Hallow/Hollow,” the heavy emphasis on electronic elements on No One Deserves Happiness comes from a place of horror, with layers of sound suffocating the compositions and forcing a great sense of unease. This is where the album reaches its peak, displaying The Body’s flexibility and creative drive at an all-time high.
Detractors may find some of the bouncier or stranger moments to be distracting, and at times they are, but those who approach this from a place of few expectations and an appreciation for creativity and expansion will be well rewarded. There are serious riffs here. The drums feel like they’re being hit so heavily they’re causing everything to spike. The whole album seems to be actively disintegrating and trying to rebuild itself simultaneously at any given moment. Chaos isn’t always a formula for success, but even in its most challenging moments, No One Deserves Happiness is memorable and varied enough within its own space to keep the listener’s attention. Hell, the last two songs are even their own little sonic island that I won’t even describe for fear of taking away from your experiences, dear reader. There are so many pockets with great little ideas that work on their own just as well as they fit into the grander scheme of the record as a whole. While a knee-jerk reaction to something so strange may be to feel repulsed, this is one of the most compelling things The Body has released in their entire career, if not the crown jewel.