Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Los Angeles-based indie rock outfit Grouplove's 2011 full-length debut, Never Trust a Happy Song, builds upon the neo-folk/rock and dancey indie rock of their 2010 self-titled EP. Still featuring the talents of lead vocalists Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, Grouplove tend toward creating passionate, anthemic pop moments that are equal parts post-MGMT indie soul and post-Killers dance-rock. Songs "Tongue Tied," "Spun," and "Love Will Save Your Soul" have a rollicking, post-punk exuberance while more hippie-dippy cuts such as "Colours" and "Naked Kids" (a carry-over from the EP) bring to mind such psychedelic touchstones as the Flaming Lips and late-'60s Beach Boys.
[a]Grouplove[/a] first caught our roving eye back in 2009, when their sunnier-than-thou dispositions and deft knack for melodies galore compelled us to wax lyrical about the Californian five-piece. And then…nothing, save for one solitary EP, in the last two years. Normally such behaviour would be considered the height of rudeness, but bad manners are easily excused when your debut album comes with such puppyish enthusiasm as ‘[b]Never Trust A Happy Song[/b]’.
Following the release last year of their short but incredibly sweet self-titled EP, Grouplove became one of 2011’s most genuinely exciting prospects. Grouplove was packed to the gunwales with charm-your-pants-off midsummer glee, with its Modest Mouse-esque sounds drenched in more sun than the Sahara. So, with our appetites duly whet, the Californian quintet returns with a full-length release that quite literally recycles the acmes of their EP: “Colours” and “Naked Kids” return untouched and unchanged, while the remaining 10 tracks suggest the band may be a one-trick pony.
Despite the nudge-nudge connotations of their name, it appears the love this California-based Anglo-American quintet feel for each other is entirely platonic (except in the case of their two singers, Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi). So there goes the one element that would have distinguished them from Best Coast and other bands producing similarly sunny-day alt-pop. Hooper has spoken of "heavy content" simmering beneath the elated rush of guitar and keyboards, but any heaviness is only glancingly alluded to ("The colours you had, no need to be sad, it really ain't that bad," Zucconi twitters despondently on Colours).
With a name that could imply the peaceful bonding of 1960s flower children or also the drastically absurd (perverted?) idea of an Eyes Wide Shut-style orgy, Grouplove give the impression either way that they’re a sensual band with flair for the over-the-top. Except, unlike the kinds of people who attend masked balls literally ending in a cluster fuck, these guys don’t incline that they’re at all interested in setting a mood for arousal or animalistic sex. Rather, the five Angelenos more-so display the work of close friends tinkering on instruments in a garage and seeing what they can come up with…which unfortunately is also an ethic that doesn’t quite work in their favor.
Wouldn’t it be nice if bands always lived up to their potential? Back in February, the UK got its first proper taste of Grouplove when they released their self-titled debut EP on these shores. And what an exciting set of six songs it was too, the way it gave Americana a shouty, slightly sloppy, slacker makeover. Most exciting was ‘Colours’, a big, boisterous anthem that beat its own snoozing bassline round the head with fistfuls of acoustic chords and cymbals.
During one particularly anthemic moment of LA indie poppers Grouplove‘s debut full-length, Never Trust a Happy Song, Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper nearly shout, “We don’t need permission/We can go where we wanna go, say what we wanna say, and do what we wanna do. ” It’s simultaneously rebellious, childish, and instantly appealing. Who doesn’t want to throw up that insubordinate middle finger every once in a while? Most of all, though, throughout the course of the album, that line proves to be honest, because whatever they want is what the quartet spends the entirety of their record doing.
You can have a decent enough game of indie bingo with this LA-based quintet's debut but the fun more or less finishes there. Familiar touchstones come thick and fast – shoutalong choruses, cutesy handclaps, insouciant female backing vocals – but unlike more persuasive alt-rock fetishists such as Yuck, Grouplove take no apparent joy in their influences. Instead, they posture unconvincingly: "Slow" is blustery bedroom angst in search of a proper song, while "Naked Kids" is laboured west coast pop that leans on "cruising down the highway" cliches to signal how carefree it is.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Grouplove? But they came 10th — TENTH! — in NME’s list of the hottest new bands of 2010. Yes, that NME. The not-all-past-its-prime, totally hip and zeitgeist savvy, trendsetting little zine out of the UK. You know… the one with Oasis on the cover ….
Encapsulates all the joys and sorrows of this emotional rollercoaster known as life. Mischa Pearlman 2011 "If it makes you happy," Sheryl Crow once mused, "then why the hell are you so sad?" It’s a question that could well be reversed and asked of California five-piece Grouplove, whose hotly anticipated debut album is finally a tangible prospect. While its songs – on their glossy, shiny, chirpy, summery surface – seem full of ebullient joy, underneath that buoyant exterior, there’s a lingering, ineluctable sense of melancholy.