Grouplove - Never Trust A Happy Song
Ignore the potentially off-putting chirpiness of the American five piece; beneath their gleeful, bounding exterior lies a band whose provenance (they met at an art school on Crete and reconvened when back in the States) is as appealing as their big fat bag o’ tunes. Once again, a much vaunted new act take a chainsaw to well practised cynicism. Peddling rootsy folk-rock one minute and a broader, more dutifully ‘alternative’ sheen the next, this is indie pop designed to get the field bouncing but a tad more catholic than so many of the dullards filling halls and fields the length and breadth.
Upfront you’ll find Christian Zucconi and Hannah Cooper; he leads with the snarling, vaguely nasal growl thing, she’s all cart-wheeling effervescence at his side. Songs strain at the leash from the first bar, desperate to get their teeth into potent choruses. ‘Itchin’ on a Photograph’ is winning, shouty high jinks and the same goes for ‘Tongue Tied’. As an opening brace, they blow the doors off but stick around and Grouplove show their smarts, getting playful and investing their uproarious arrangements with heart and soul. Take the lovelorn swell of ‘Close Your Eyes And Count To Ten' or, even better, the coolly anthemic ‘Betty’s A Bombshell’, Zucconi and Cooper’s heartbreak harmonies channelling Gram and Emmylou to shivery effect.
Smart enough not to repeat themselves, they dabble and dick about just enough, showing cool regard for throwing in a stomping anthem here, a country-flavoured ballad there. Never Trust A Happy Song is hardly the sound of the revolution but it’s indie pop shot through with soul, wit and genuine affection for the form. If you spot a layer of filler (‘Lovely Cup’ and ‘Cruel And Beautiful World’ veer into the formulaic), at least they’ve not been cheap enough to apply a coat of tiresome irony. No, Grouplove are deliciously for real and this is an essential debut.