As a kid his time was split between his native Liverpool and Florence, Italy, after his parents’ divorce. Liverpool has a musical heritage that is impossible to escape but it was during the summers, whilst devouring his Dad’s amazingly eclectic record collection , that his musical education began, taking in everything from Talking Heads and Penguin Cafe Orchestra to The Band and David Bowie.

He lost his twenties to bad decisions and train-wreck relationships and it was only after meeting his future wife, and then struggling through some kind of nervous breakdown, that he started to take songwriting seriously. They moved out of London into the “wilds” of the Cambridgeshire countryside and got into village life. The songs he wrote (part therapy / part love letter his new life) formed the basis of his 2012 debut album, Woodditton Wives Club, a record “replete with tales of rural S&M, mental, emotional and economic collapse, and ultimately salvation through love and family” (according to his mate Ben).

Both albums received extensive support from BBC6 Music & BBC Introducing (amongst others), a US tour taking in New York, Austin (SXSW) and LA, with more tours across Germany, Holland & Belgium, as well as slots at Camp Bestival, Wilderness Festival, No Direction Home, Summer Sundae, The Big Session, Norderzon and more.

Then nothing for three years?

Not exactly. Alex Highton just took some time to work on a third album. With a bunch of songs swirling around in his head but having no desire to repeat himself, he locked himself away in the studio with producer/multi instrumentalist Jonathan Czerwik, and started putting together the songs that would fill “Welcome To Happiness”.

In their downtime they discussed artists they loved and would inform the new album – Can, The Flaming Lips, Beck, Prince, Steely Dan, Bon Iver, Serge Gainsbourg, Here We Go Magic, The Beach Boys, Bowie, Neu, tons more… (see here for a spotify playlist by Alex) “We threw all this stuff into the pot and just said ‘let’s see what happens’.

Listen now on Spotify, Apple Music, etc…

This recording/listening session took over their lives somewhat more than they expected, and two years later they emerged, somewhat frazzled with something that is at once infinitely more direct & complex than anything Alex had attempted before, and possibly quite out of step.

Highton isn’t particulary interested in the zeitgest (as he himself says on “Voices”) and he insists that they only rules they had were no rock (which they possibly broke) and no acoustic guitar (which they didn’t).

Otherwise they just followed their noses until they were happy, they just didn’t realise that it would take two years to reach the point where they felt happy.

Highton insists that the whole album was one massive collaboration, firstly between Jonners & himself, then the arrangers and players, each bringing something new to the table. Claire Hollocks’ epic string arrangements, Andrew McNew’s horn section all the way from Boulder Colorado, Robert Rotifer’s Brydsian guitar solo on “Love Kills” & Boudewijn Bonnerbaker (ex-lead guitar in Gorfest no less) wah wah on “Voices”.

Alex said “I was just trying to stretch out a bit, go somewhere I’d not been before and it was fun, to just say, whatever goes, goes…

“I wanted to do something that had funk, that could be upbeat but also weird and jazzy. Full of strings and horns, old analogue synths and battered keyboards.

‘Welcome to Happiness’ is me saying, I’m not sure there’s any meaning to anything, and life may be shit at times, but you might as well enjoy it while you can.”