For the Record: Bet you can’t get the new Grouplove song out of your head
Music columnist Meghan LeVota on ‘Spreading Rumors’
Gotta love those summer days spent cruising with your friends with the windows down, drinking large QuikTrip drinks while singing: “Take me to your best friend’s house / I loved you then and I love you now / Ohhhh yeah.”
This familiar hook from Grouplove’s “Tongue Tied” reached the No. 1 position of Billboard’s alternative hits chart in 2012, becoming a summer staple. (Maybe thanks to a popular iPod touch commercial, featuring several attractive young adults jumping around to the song and having a jolly ol’ time). Though you definitely can’t help but smile while listening to Grouplove, were they just a one-hit wonder?
This past month, the band released their sophomore effort, Spreading Rumours, proving that they have mastered the art of producing catchy, single-worthy songs. In fact you can’t help but wonder if that’s all they can do.
The album starts strong with breathtaking, ascending piano trills in “I’m With You.” It takes a full minute for the song to start, energy building as a distant heartbeat begins to sound as if it’s getting closer. One of the most put together songs on the album, “I’m With You” has segments that explode with energy, as well as moments of pure silence.
On the surface, it’s assumed to be a love song (especially considering the repetition of the phrase “I’m with you”). But, once I watched the animated video for this song on Grouplove’s website, my thoughts changed.
The video depicts a girl dancing in her room alone, staring in the mirror. At the end of the cartoon, she actually physically steps inside the mirror. This gave me an entirely different interpretation of the song, allowing me to infer that the lyrics are either talking about falling in love with one’s self, or with a person that reminds you of yourself.
The biggest downfall of Spreading Rumours is its length. This wouldn’t be so bad if the album was more cohesive, yet it tends to feel like a collection of singles. With 16 tracks, it’s easy to get bored halfway through.
One of the most upbeat and catchy tracks on the album is “Borderlines and Aliens.” Though it is arguably memorable for its early location on the tracklist, the song’s punk rock riff allows it to take the crown.
My personal favorite is also the album’s single, “Ways To Go.” Though Grouplove features several catchy tunes, it’s this one that has the most potential for a Billboard listing.
The lyrics are not only thought-provoking, but singable. Lead singer Chris Zucconi’s tenor vocals are extraordinary, combining purity with resonance (and impressive high notes!). And for a college student feeling the pressure to decide his or her entire life path, hearing the words “I got a little bit longer / I got a ways to go” is comforting.
“Shark Attack” and “Bitin’ the Bullet” are two other commercial-worthy, upbeat, indie dance tracks — did I mention Grouplove has a knack for those? Contrary to most radio cuts, Grouplove makes their songs a little longer (a little more than four minutes), which gives them more substance.
Although high energy is Grouplove’s trademark, when the album does slow down, it’s not always for the worst. “Hippy Hill” moves at an enjoyable, yet leisurely pace, much like the hippies themselves.
You’d certainly expect a song entitled “Hippy Hill” to include lyrics with liberal hippy undertones, and I can’t help but love them: “Yeah I’d rather leave my spirit for everyone / So come sit at my table / Yeah come sit at my table.”
Another notable, “Sit Still,” features not only relatable lyrics to an antsy girl, but a totally awesome percussion section at the end.
For an album with a lot of songs that I really do love, something still seems off with Spreading Rumors. Maybe I just don’t have the attention span for an album of such length, or maybe I tend to prefer more cohesive albums.
Regardless, it is clear that these songs are crafted with live shows in mind. As Zucconi tells us in the band’s “Making of Grouplove’s Spreading Rumors” YouTube video, “All of the songs are real lively and pump-ups because we want to bring that every night and share that with the audience.”