No one can claim that Joel Plaskett isn’t willing to challenge himself. His last solo outing, Three, took on the near-impossible task of the triple album and succeeded in producing one of the few truly great trilogies ever recorded. For his return to the rock band format as the Joel Plaskett Emergency, the East Coast pop hero injected some urgency into the process by writing and recording a song every 10 days and then unveiling the results on CBC as soon as it was completed.
This unorthodox approach is responsible for both the greatest strengths and flaws of Scrappy Happiness. The stripped-down rawness is generally a good thing; when you opt for one guitar track instead of 10, it ends up sounding 10 times louder than if it has to fight for sonic space.
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The lyrics are drenched in nostalgia and have a semi-improvised quality that mostly works, with a few awkward moments. Plaskett’s pushing his songwriting in new directions, and while the album has an unfinished, tentative quality, there’s something genuinely exciting about listening to a talented musician test his limits.