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Song You Need to Know: Elephant Castle, ‘Cool to Be Unhappy’

Phil Danyew, a longtime touring member of Foster the People, recruits a team of alt-rock all-stars to embark on his trippy new journey

Alt-rock musician Phil Danyew spent the last six years touring and playing keys with Foster the People. “Now, I’m off in a cave making my own music again,” the multi-instrumentalist said on March 2nd. About a month later, he released “Cool to Be Unhappy,” the debut single from his new project, Elephant Castle.

The mid-tempo track is a stoner’s delight — a breezy, bright, and woozy take on a go-to breakup song. Mellifluous melodies reminiscent of Tame Impala and retro synth sounds leave the listener floating. For a song that’s moved by psychedelic elements, its message is direct and quite relatable. The lyrics don’t beat around the bush or lean on poetic metaphor, but if you aren’t paying attention to them, the song almost feels carefree. “I’m better without you, erase your messages. Nothing to show, let me let go,” Danyew sings. Perhaps that’s something we could all use nowadays: a calm approach, and the ability to recognize a negative scenario for what it is and walk away.

Paramore drummer Zac Farro gives this song a strong backbone of percussion, and Danyew’s funky bass line seems to roll seamlessly along right off the bat — as far as rhythm sections go, it’s an ideal pairing. The clean mix comes courtesy of respected mixer Carlos de la Garza (Best Coast, Wolf Alice, M83) and mastering engineer Dave Cooley (Tame Impala, Spoon, Jimmy Eat World), who successfully keep each individual element from stepping on the toes of another. The result is a roll-around-in-your-underwear-while-the-sun-seeps-through-the-window song, one that’s perfect for declining a call and sending an unwanted presence to voicemail.

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