Grouplove - Spreading Rumours

Let me preface this review by saying Grouplove’s debut album Never Trust A Happy Song was my favourite album released in 2011. My last.fm account even suggests I listened to the album in excess of forty times.

So that means you could look at this review by saying I’m biased, on the other hand, being such a huge fan of their work, I was extremely nervous (whilst also excited) at the prospect of the release of the difficult sophomore album.

What the Californian quintet have cleverly done is not try and emulate or recreate their first release. Never Trust A Happy Song was a summer soundtrack, the perfect companion for the roadtrip that ‘Naked Kids’ referenced. Spreading Rumours is a mature and enjoyable follow-up album that takes a different direction. Therefore if their debut is a summer anthem, Spreading Rumours is an album for all four seasons while at the same time never shying away from their fun and often fast-paced trademark sound.

The album opens rather slowly with ‘I’m With You’ which takes over a minute to swell into a full-bodied song with frantic pianos before everything is completely stripped away before vocalist Christian Zucconi’s lyrics appear just after the two-minute mark. This song, which features on FIFA 14 (albeit as a radio-edit) serves as a statement to tell fans they’re not afraid to venture off the well-worn and successful path they’ve paved for themselves musically.

Next up is ‘Borderlines and Aliens’, which was one of two songs released online to fans prior to the album’s release. The song is the first to feature female singer Hannah Hooper more prominently. It also shows that the band have become far better at using the two singers together and in harmony as opposed to one or the other, and the album benefits from it.

‘Ways To Go’ is the album’s lead single, a fire-cracker of a song that set this hardcore fan’s mind at ease that the album would indeed be quality when first heard many months ago. See the video below to get a taste. It’s one of the top tune’s on the disc and probably the most instantly appealing track on show; switching between fast and slow-pace extremely well.

One of the best songs on the album is ‘Shark Attack’, a sing-along tune that’s so beachy it is both choral and coral. ‘Hippy Hill’ contains the best lyric of the album; ‘I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster, what!’

‘Didn’t Have To Go’ features Hooper, who also does all the band’s artwork, on vocals by herself, switching from a screaming style in the chorus to sickly-sweet verses with apparent ease. As the album comes to a close there’s still quality to be found, no filler tracks to be found here, ‘Raspberry’ is a hectic sounding number that keeps you paying attention given it’s sandwiched between two softer numbers.

One of which being the closing track ‘Save The Party For Me’, a soft acoustic number that again features the two vocalists working side by side harmoniously.

Spreading Rumours is a great album and a tremendous follow-up release given the immense pressure the band must’ve been facing to match the success and quality of their first record. While it’s hard to compare this album to Never Trust A Happy Song as it feels too soon to know yet which is better. However what’s certain is that Grouplove have made a bold change of direction, grown as songwriters, all whilst retaining their signature sound.

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