Ah Grouplove. I remember falling utterly in love with their first single ‘Colours’ and then came the agonising wait for the album proper; worrying over the announcement of each new single and/or video like it may not equal that first hit of feel good brilliance. Well, their debut Never Trust A Happy Song finally offers a chance for everyone caught up in the groundswell of that first, tantalising, superlative song to join the love-in.
The genesis of Grouplove lies in Lower East Side Manhattan via an art residency on a small mountain in the Greek island of Crete. Founders Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, followed by token guitar-playing Londoner Sean Gadd, LA surfer Andrew Wessen and his home-boy Ryan Rabin (drums and production) are the proud creators of that rare beast; a buzz debut that wholly lives up to the hype. Really though, you can almost hear the free spirited, aesthete, bohemian context leaking through the speakers.
Opener ‘Itchin’ On A Photograph’ is a surprisingly epic pop song in the vein of a melancholic Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin jamming with Cincinnati’s Pomegranates. The album goes through more moods than a manic depressive; whimsical living room party music up such as ‘Tongue Tied’ (check out the excellent video) as well as the straight up awesome (‘Colours’) the more atmospheric and left-field, (‘Slow’) road trip fodder (‘Naked Kids’) and more besides.
Bar one, two songs at most, they’re all charming, restlessly inventive and often roughly beautiful. Where the affecting and dramatic ‘Slow’ comes from I really don’t know, but somehow it shows Grouplove at both their most po-faced and at their most raw; it’s an oddball gem that ties two thirds of the album excellently.
The album title is a curious one, hinting with a charming lack of subtlety that there lies an ulterior motive to these 46.5 minutes of happy musical veneer. In simple terms there’s two sides to Grouplove’s coin and you’d be hard pressed not to trust in them by the album’s close. In many ways, my initial hyperbolic excitement has been tempered into a more enduring satisfaction by this wonderful debut.