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Have a Nice Life are a two-piece experimental rock band from Middletown, Connecticut that began in 2000. The band consists of Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga. Since their formation, they have been sparsely active, but have garnered a cult following thanks to their incredibly unique style of music and magnum opus, 2008’s Deathconsciousness. The band blends elements of post-punk, shoegaze, post-rock, industrial, drone, doom, and ambient music to create one of the darkest, depressing and most existential records of all time. In its near hour and a half run-time it explores a litany of expansive sounds, themes and emotions, making the final project a work of absolute genius. I consider it to be one of the most personally affecting works of art ever made, and (as cliché as it sounds) sitting alone listening to Deathconsciousness in a dark room is an experience (as pretentious as that sounds). By the culmination of the album in the final minutes of “Earthshaker”, it’s hard not to be truly moved, like standing on a mountain of solitude watching your life flash before your eyes. It’s an album that stands on its own without any clear contemporaries, which is fitting considering the isolating nature of the music. The production and recording quality is another major contributor to the feel of this album, with it being recorded for less than $1000, giving it a lo-fi sound that still feels full, warm, and organic. It’s truly cut from its own cloth, and there hasn’t been a record before or since that can truly compare to it. Even the bands often cited as being its influencers (Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine) don’t really capture the same sounds that Have a Nice Life do on this album, and those are the titans of their respective genres. To cut this short and avoid further ranting, just listen to this album.
Their debut album was the sole occupant of a desolate island until 2014, when Have a Nice Life released their follow-up album, The Unnatural World. It follows a similar aesthetic to their debut, but with a significantly shorter run-time. It still reaches incredible heights, and puts the listener in a mood torn between life-affirming and death-approaching. Additionally, they have also released one EP (Time Of Land) and two compilations that contains b-sides and demos from throughout their career that were not included on their two studio albums. The two musicians comprising Have a Nice Life are also active in many other projects, most notably (and also recommended) Dan Barrett’s Giles Corey, who released an incredible LP in between the two Have a Nice Life albums. Enjoy.