Grouplove – Never Trust A Happy Song album review

Following in the footsteps of acts such as The Fratellis and Feist are Grouplove, the latest band to get a jumpstart courtesy of an iPod spot. With the success of tracks “Tongue Tied” and “Colours” already firmly cemented, the Los Angeles group emerged in late 2011 with their debut full-length offering, Never Trust A Happy Song.

No matter how much the band claims to abhor happy songs, it’s apparent that they are by no means averse to upbeat tracks at the very least. With a sound quality best described as the vocal urgency of Tokyo Police Club combined with the evocative instrumentals of Funeral-era Arcade Fire, Grouplove succeeds in creating, for the most part, a collection of songs that make a person want to get up, get out, and parade away. The first half of the album, in particular, sees songs that feature swelling choruses (“Itchin’ On A Photograph”), vibrant and varied bass lines (“Lovely Cup”), and a slick rolling lyrical style interrupted by the occasional wail (“Colours”). The tracks may not be happy but they are loud, they are beautiful, and they feel remarkably cathartic.

That being said, the album is not without missteps. Middle track “Slow” lives up to its name, and is wholly inconsistent with the rest of the album. The ethereal quality proves to be a stark change that leaves the track appearing to have been conceived of by a completely different band, and gives the impression of trying too hard to create an alternative sound. Later “Betty’s Bomb Shell” is a much better attempt at a slow interlude for the album, maintaining the sound and style genuinely unique to the band and consistent to the album, but executing them to a lesser extreme.

Given that the band is a relatively new act and, as has been well-documented, were friends first and a musical ensemble second, the oversights are by all means forgivable. From that perspective, Never Trust A Happy Song is everything a fledgling offering should be — a collection beautiful moments and awkward spills that will probably culminate in a smooth first flight. The fact that they sound pretty good in the meantime is just a bonus.

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