E very couple of months a band comes along that turns heads with an incredibly polished and catchy single. This summer, that band was Foster The People, whose now ubiquitous song “Pumped Up Kicks” pushed the band to new heights as they gained prominent stage placement in music festivals such as Outside Lands and Austin City Limits while simultaneously selling out concerts on their tour. Tickets for their Dallas show were being sold for an unreasonable $100 by scalpers. The problem these buzz bands have is that their albums are often unable to sustain the quality of their top single throughout an entire album. I originally thought Foster The People fell into this trap, but was surprised to see that their album “Torches” was able to provide consistent set of songs that meshed well with their hit.
The buzz band of the fall seems to have fallen to the upstart band from LA Grouplove, whose instantly memorable single “Colours” and their electrifying live act have helped the group build up a great deal of momentum and expectations for their debut album “Never Trust A Happy Song,” which saw its release two weeks ago. However, unlike Foster The People, Grouplove’s staying power seems rather debatable. The band attacks their debut with all they can muster and while it makes for an entertaining set of songs, few are on par with the colossal “Colours.”
Generally, Grouplove’s sound can be described as a type of fun-in-the-sun pop with incredibly catchy hooks and sing-along choruses that mesh into a type of dance friendly rock music. When the band succeeds in this delicate balance, the songs come across as wonderfully sincere, yet accessible across a wide audience. This instant appeal is what makes album standouts “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” “Lovely Cup,” and “Colours” so good. However, these songs are all in the first half of the album, making the overall work top heavy. Beyond these three standouts, there appears to be rather forgettable ventures into various musical genres. The song “Slow” is a perfect example of such strange experimentation. The song is a slow, almost psychedelic experimentation that kills the energy of its predecessor “Colours.”
While the second half of “Never Trust A Happy Song” isn’t devoid of listenable music with “Naked Kids,” “Chloe,” and album closer “Close Your Eyes And Count To Ten” fashioning the brilliantly fun escapism that defines the band, other songs simply fail to keep the listener interested. In fact, I’ve found myself at times skipping songs that don’t piqué my interest. However, regardless of its apparent shortcomings, Grouplove’s debut is undeniably fun to listen to. Although not every song is the masterpiece of “Colours” or “Itchin’ On A Photograph,” the enthusiasm with which the band attacks every song is enough to make up for the lack of depth from which the album suffers.
It remains to be seen whether Grouplove can offer a flowing and consistent album in the future, but for now, their infectious hooks and eagerness to entertain, both on the stage and on their album, are enough to warrant the purchase of “Never Trust A Happy Song”. However, while their best songs may begin to receive airplay on radios and parties, don’t expect the band to have the consistency of Foster The People. Hopefully, as Grouplove’s sound develops they can reach the potential that “Colours” indicates they’re capable of. That said, their show at Prophet Bar on October 21st should not be missed by anyone looking for a captivating, energetic, and fun performance.
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