Happy Straps


Happy Straps Pleasures 1985​–86 LP

Cold war post-punk from East Berlin featuring two members who would later form the nu-metal-adjacent industrial band RAMMSTEIN in the ’90s, but don’t hold that against them! Pleasures 1985–86 cherry-picks tracks from HAPPY STRAPS’ two cassettes (1985’s What a Pleasure and 1986’s Last Pleasure), and opener “We Live in Paradise” is a bit of a stylistic outlier within the context of the rest of the collection, following a fairly basic and rudimentary first-wave punk template, although the warbling vocals and interjections of space age synth point to some weirder creative impulses clearly at work. The rest of the A-side also skims the band’s first tape, including “Railway Station,” a stuttering post-punk spy theme with co-vocalist Claudia Böhme’s delivery splitting the difference between hiccuping and deadpan, right up there with the best ’80s femme-led Euro art-punk (LILIPUT, HANS-A-PLAST, TRÜMMERFRAUEN, you name it), and “Running Away,” which recalls the dreamy, beauty-in-drone side of SST-era SONIC YOUTH (think EVOL’s “Starpower”) or the less frantic side of MISSION OF BURMA. Last Pleasure is covered on the B-side, with HAPPY STRAPS wandering down darker, unsettling goth corridors—the graveyard-dwelling atmospheric guitar, sinister bass rumble, and guitarist Christian Jaeger’s howling vocals on ”White Bird” all echo early BAUHAUS, while the gnarled, barely minute-long “Tod” (German for “death”) crawls bleary-eyed through some BAD SEEDS wreckage, and the Claudia-sung “Tape Song” plunges into the depths of cavernous bass and a death disco beat. The Tapetopia series that this LP is a part of has been bringing all sorts of gems from East Germany’s cassette underground (like, way underground) to light, and this might be one of the best installments yet.