Music Review: Steven Wilson’s ‘Happy returns’ with yet another haunting melody

Progressive Rock king Steven Wilson’s much acclaimed Hand Cannot Erase album is inspired by a massively tragic incident of death, solitude and human ignorance. British young lady Joyce Carol Vincent’s was lying dead for more than two years, in her one room apartment, but went unnoticed to rest of the world.

Late Joyce Carol Vincent’s. Rest in peace lady.

Prior to her death at London, Vincent had cut off all contacts with friends, family and people who knew her; including resigning from her job and moving into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. She died in her tiny house around December 2003 with family, friends or neighbors unaware or bothered. It was a big statement on people who are so busy with life to even look beyond the shoulder.

Her remains were discovered on January 25, 2006, with the cause of death believed to be asthma attack or peptic ulcer.

Hand Cannot Erase critical acclaim

Steven Wilson’s Hand Cannot Erase was released over one and half years ago, Feb 2015, with all major publication reviewers rating the album upwards 8+/10. The German music magazine Vision has even called it ‘The Wall’ of modern era.

Almost all videos of Hand Cannot Erase have the theme of depression, human ignorance, death and solitude in it. Wilson recent release music video ‘Happy Returns’ irrespective of the name, maintains that same theme.

Watch Steven Wilson’s latest video ‘Happy Returns’ 


Are we always busy or is it the default escapist answer?

The beauty of this album and the music videos is with every song (and video) you will relate to Joyce Vincent. What she must have gone through in her last years, how as humans we are getting insensitive of the people around us and falling standards of relationships.

The video revolves around a sister’s letters to a brother outpouring the hard truths of her life. That ‘she isn’t busy’, ‘has trouble with bills’, ‘do (your) kids remember me?’, just watches the ‘years just pass like trains’. She is tired of smoking, drugs, the drowsy state and always ‘avoiding the police’.

While you may struggle to related with the drugs/smoking part, the underlying theme is how addicted we get to things that start ignoring humans and life’s pleasures. The song ends in a terrific guitar solo with the video moving towards positivity. The model, Carrie Grr (also on cover of Hand Cannot Erase) is seen enjoying walking around streets with more purpose, dancing on open grounds and cycling/running on fields as clouds move away from her life. All of it signifying ‘Happy returns’. Its brilliant Wilson at his best.



Hey brother, happy returns
It’s been a while now
I bet you thought that I was dead
But I’m still here, nothing’s changed

Hey brother, I’d love to tell you
I’ve been busy
But that would be a lie
‘Cause the truth is
The years just pass like trains
I wave but they don’t slow down

Hey brother, I see the freaks
Dispossessed on day release
Avoiding the police
I feel I’m falling once again
But now there’s no one left to catch me

Hey brother, I feel I’m living in parentheses
And I’ve got trouble with the bills
Do the kids remember me?
Well I got gifts for them
And for you more sorrow
But I’m feeling kind of drowsy now
So I’ll finish this tomorrow


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