Grouplove – Big Mess – released 9 September 2016
Grouplove’s third studio offering is a bit ‘more of the same’ and I remain unconvinced that the band expands beyond producing excellent music to listen to as you flee from the office on a Friday—but these aren’t necessarily bad qualities. What Grouplove do, they do well, and Big Mess is another enjoyable Alt-Pop album from the quintet that is perhaps just not messy enough.
Big Mess feels slightly cleaner and steadier than the band’s two previous ventures, Never Trust a Happy Song (2011) and Spreading Rumours (2013). But fewer lows also mean fewer highs. Whilst the new album doesn’t include any truly skip-able tracks, it also never provides anything quite as interesting as ‘Shark Attack’ or as catchy as ‘Tongue Tied’—and certainly nothing as touching as ‘Save the Party’, the concluding track on Spreading Rumours.
Big Mess kicks off with the single ‘Welcome to Your Life’—a predictable rallying cry for Youth that quickly settles us into the Grouplove land of satisfying and perfected choruses. ‘Do You Love Someone’ continues to drive the album forward with a catchy post-chorus reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand—as does ‘Good Morning’, a quintessential weekend song featuring Hooper’s vocals and another memorable hook. ‘Enlighten Me’ and ‘Cannonball’ both layer slightly different colours to the album, the former eschewing guitar and veering towards pure pop and the latter employing a fuzzy low-fi weight (and rap? Ska?) to an otherwise typical dance anthem. But ‘Heart of Mine’ is perhaps the most honest and successful track of the lot with its simple lyrics and soaring vocals by Zucconi.
In the chorus of the closing track ‘Hollywood’, Zucconi and Hooper suggest, ‘I got something classical/ to keep the people wanting more’. Perhaps only ‘classical’ in the sense that they tread no particularly new ground, with their third album Grouplove maintain likeability—and I think this likeability will continue to sell records for the time being.
Overall, Big Mess doesn’t exhibit a tremendous amount of growth by Grouplove. But I’m not sure that the band really wants to growup—and this, I think, is part of what makes them so much fun.
Review by Weekes Gaehl