Happy Bullets The Vice and Virtue Ministry

On the surface, it’s probably a good thing that the Happy Bullets have copied much of the Decemberists artwork style on The Vice and Virtue Ministry. From the band members dressed in Victorian costumes to the pictures of Ye Olde London, they’ve made it pretty obvious to the audience they are out to win over. Their sophomore release takes a little while to get into its stride. The first three or four songs pass almost inconsequentially before "The Disquieting Letter” comes along with its Decemberists-like swagger (not surprisingly) and adds some life to the proceedings. And if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the Happy Bullets should continue to flatter their idols (such as the Kinks) because that is when they are at their best — except when they overdo it. Unfortunately, they do overreach themselves too frequently to prevent The Vice and Virtue Ministry from being as good as it could be. The band get so frustratingly close to pop perfection at times that it can be a maddening listen because just a few little changes could improve the band so significantly. Maybe next time. (Drive Thru)