Tag Archives: Never Trust A Happy Song

Reviewing Grouplove’s Latest Album


Spreading Rumors Album Review

If you’ve seen any of my past Grouplove reviews, you’ll recall that they’re at the top of my list of upcoming artists. Their breakthrough debut album, Never Trust A Happy Song, was in our Top 5 Rock Albums of 2011, and their live show has been great both times that I’ve caught them.

I’ve been anxious to hear what they have to offer on their follow-up release Spreading Rumors. Would it be the next step in their evolution as a rock solid artist, or the dreaded Sophomore slump.  As it turns out, it’s a little of both.

The first track, “I’m With You” starts with a gratuitous 2:00 extended musical intro before melding into a fairly lame by their standards Vampire Weekend-esque offering which is quite frankly probably the worst song they’ve offered to date. Certainly an ominous start to their second full-length offering.

Fortunately, the tenor of the album takes a 180 degree turn on the very next track, “Borderlines And Aliens,” which felt like a nice extension of the fine music the band proffered on Never Trust a Happy Song. The guitar riff in this one is addictive; accompanied by strong vocal trade-offs from Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper, it’s a raucous rocker, and a song that should have kicked off the album.

“Ways To Go” is the sweetly saccharine first single from the album. It’s a keyboard and drum machine driven guilty pleasure. The keyboards are simple, yet simply addictive and the boy-girl vocal trade-offs perfectly harmonious. “Raspberry” is my choice for best single offering on the album. It’s an excellent, well-balanced track that highlights what the band does best: strong vocals, powerful drums, driving bass and slick guitar work; and it’s catchy as hell.

One of my favorite tracks was “Sit Still” which strayed nicely from the keyboard driven cuts that dominate Spreading Rumors. Plenty of acoustic guitar and superb drumming from Ryan Rabin carry this song and make it one of the most diverse offerings on the album.

On one of the band’s few offerings that is not powered by Zucconi’s voice, Hannah Hooper takes a turn in the spotlight. “Didn’t Have To Go” nicely spotlights Hooper’s wide vocal range, and through two albums is the best showcase for her talented voice,

“What I Know” and “News To Me” are two other strong tracks that nicely spotlight the band’s under-emphasized guitar playing ability, and “Shark Attack” is a fun quirky cross between Surf Punks and The Go-Gos.

Is it as good as their debut? No, but there aren’t many recent albums that are. Spreading Rumors has a handful of mediocre tracks but it also offers a nice selection of excellent offerings. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Rock On!


Grouplove – You Can Trust These Happy Songs

Never Trust a Happy Song
Grouplove's latest album Never Trust a Happy Song

I was intrigued by this band the first time I heard their quirky Alt-Rock hit “Colours.” It’s a catchy tune that immediately grabs your attention with the unique and edgy vocals of Christian Zucconi and a memorable chorus.  I was expecting an album packed with similar songs, but “colour” me surprised, as it is a very diverse collection of mostly excellent songs.

The album, Never Trust A Happy Song kicks off with a cool handclap intro to “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” and bounces across the spectrum with a bunch of clever, original, happy pop tunes.  It’s good stuff for the most part and definitely worth a listen. The quintet is clearly taking chances on this album; there’s no cookie cutter recipe for success here.  They throw out a bunch of stuff, lots of different sounds and approaches, and although they’re not all perfect, this album is packed with excellent tracks.

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The first four cuts are all mainstream Alt-Rock tunes, with “Colours” and “Itchin’ On a Photograph” the two with potential to get the most AltNation-like airtime.  But, the album grinds to a halt on the aptly titled “Slow.” Not a bad tune, but it belongs somewhere else on the album. The next few songs are back along the happy vein, “Naked Kids” is a fun ode to adolescent fun, and “Spun” is a catchy tune with a great ukulele intro, another nice surprising nugget on an album packed with them!  Then, it’s another trip down the roller coaster for “Betty’s a Bombshell.”

The next two back-to-back tracks are my favorites on the album. “Chloe” is a fantastic song. Absolutely fun – a blast to listen to, and one of my top 2011 discoveries.  It’s got a bit of a rockabilly sound and features powerful drumming from Ryan Rabin, the son of uber-talented Trevor Rabin.  “Love Will Save Your Soul” is another great track, and spotlights Hannah Hooper’s superb vocals.  Along with “Colours,” these two are the highlights of the album.

As the album winds down, the last few cuts continue to highlight the band’s diversity, “Cruel and Beautiful World” offers Zucconi’s strongest vocals and great harmonies from Hooper and the rest of the band.  It is a beautiful song, and destined to be a soundtrack staple for years to come. On this song and throughout, Ryan Rabin’s production is fantastic.

I have to give the band credit. They’re talented and they’ve experimented a bit here – and it works.  There are a few misses, but for the most part, this is a strong and deep album that features a handful of great songs, and a few more that are destined to grow on you over time.  Buy the album; just rearrange the songs on your playlist.

Cretin

 

Grouplove’s Official Website