Really, you have to wonder whose bright idea it was not to release Never Trust A Happy Song until now. It’s timing is appalling, given that Grouplove’s debut album is in essence the perfect summer record. Even now, I can imagine people sipping cocktails, lounging on the beach, getting wasted at house parties, or whatever else they do with their mid-year months with this album blasting in the background, so to release it no sooner than the leaves have begun to mellow seems like a missed opportunity to say the least. Poor marketing should not, however, detract from what a good album this is, and with a bit of luck they should still be able to come back and rule the festival circuit next year.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a flawless album by any means. There’s a definite slip in quality towards the mid-latter section, resulting in mildly enjoyable tracks which sadly still act as little other than filler. The isolated instances where the band veer from their trademark indie-pop sound such as 'Time Moves Slow' also tend to fall flat, and although branching out is to be encouraged their attempts here are rarely successful. But when listening to the record, it’s not these negatives that you dwell on, rather the blissful sugary joy blended with Pixies-like grit which characterises the majority of the record, and culminates in some of the anthems which should have defined our summer.
'Colours' and 'Naked Kids' have been in circulation since the band’s excellent self-titled EP was released in February, and both sound just as fresh and vibrant now as they did seven months ago. Those established favourites only form part of the record’s scaffolding, though, with at least three other songs appearing which are just as good if not even better. Fans will already be familiar with terrific singles 'Itchin’ On A Photograph' and 'Tongue Tied,' but the real gem in the pack comes in the shape of third track 'Lovely Cup,' which possesses the same kind of simplistic but completely addictive hooks which have made overall inferior bands such as Vampire Weekend and MGMT so massive.
In fact, the mere thought of those two bands successes must be pretty sickly for Grouplove, because about half of the songs on this album could have been just as all-conquering as 'A-Punk' or 'Kids' had they been marketed properly. Hell, even Foster The People have managed to make a breakthrough in the past few months, yet their album was nothing more than three good songs surrounded by a swarm average ones. Torches was half the record that this is, yet it is they who are making strides on both sides of the Atlantic, while this far more worthy LA crew’s fanbase seems to be growing at the pace of a crippled turtle by comparison. Like I said, though, there’s always next year, and if they return with a few killer singles along with a similarly excellent sophomore there seems no reason why this immensely promising young band can't gain the wider recognition they fully merit.
Never Trust A Happy Song is out now in the UK, and is released in the US on September 13th.
1. Itchin' on a Photograph
2. Tongue Tied
3. Lovely Cup
6. Naked Kids
8. Betty's a Bombshell
10. Love Will Save Your Soul
11. Cruel and Beautiful World
12. Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten