Grouplove Shines On ‘Big Mess’
Alternative, indie-pop collective Grouplove returns after a three-year hiatus with its third album, ‘Big Mess,’ with superb results.
Alternative band Grouplove returns after a three-year hiatus between albums. The last time we heard from Grouplove was in 2013 when they were Spreading Rumours. Those Rumours peaked at no. 21 on the Billboard 200, a significant “come up” from the band’s debut, Never Trust A Happy Song. Is new album Big Mess indeed a “big mess?” Not in the least. Grouplove shines on album number three without a doubt.
“Welcome to Your Life” kicks off Big Mess sensationally. Well produced, well written, and captivating, the opener possesses more depth than it’s given credit for. In a general sense, the band seems to make the statement, make the most of life, even if it’s imperfect. Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper – partners in real life – share vocal duties.
“Do You Love Someone” keeps the momentum flowing without a hitch. Enthusiasm remains the M.O. This enthusiasm is best showcased on the infectious chorus:
“So tell me, do you love someone? / I’m losing all the time I had / I never had to know about the other / know about the other side.”
The message is simple and straight to the point. Do you love someone?
“Standing in the Sun” has two tough acts to follow, but holds its own. Definitely clear is that nothing is going to derail the collective’s shine:
“I just stand in the sun / warm my head in the sun / run around ‘til it all stands still / I just wait in the sun”
Single “Enlighten Me” features exceptional production work – the hard beat is a selling point. In addition to the beat, Grouplove manages to fuse numerous stylistic cues. Sometimes it sounds like urban pop, while the later arrival of guitars signals full-fledged rock. “Enlighten Me” is about appreciating life in the present, according to the band.
“But I don’t feel my life is real /I’m on the fence with common sense”
“The night is young, the rest is up to you / why ya’ gotta say, ‘Good morning’?” “Good Morning” stands out for various reasons. Synthesized horns and bright, exuberant production doesn’t hurt. Neither do strong vocals. Hooper sings lead on verse one and verse two, with Zucconi resuming lead on the chorus. Danceable, “Good Morning” is infectious to the nth degree.
“Spinning” may not be as fun, but is as consistent as the majority of Big Mess. More notably, “Spinning” has a fantastic message – overcoming adversity. This is exemplified on the chorus:
“Say here I stand / I was broken now I’m brave/ say here I am / found my colors in the grey.”
“Cannonball” is incredibly ambitious and energetic. True to its title, it sounds like it’s about to demolish something. On the dynamic “Traumatized,” Zucconi is honest about his current status in life:
“A girl so beautiful sleeps on the couch / there’s a little baby in her blouse / she is my only one true love / in the world / cause she’s my f*cking girl.”
“Heart of Mine” keeps the volume knob turned up. Guitar-heavy, Grouplove doesn’t back down. Literally, the emotion seems to be played through guitar amps. Penultimate cut “Don’t Stop Making It Happen” is fun. Among the best moments, the bridge section, chanted by Hooper, who proves she’s got swag. “Hollywood” concludes Big Mess respectably. The vocal harmonization between Zucconi and Hooper is radiant.
There’s nothing messy about Big Mess. Grouplove assemble a terrific album that never misses the mark. Sure, not every record is a highlight in the big scheme of things, but none fall short of consistency. This is an album many will sleep on but shouldn’t.
Gems: “Welcome to Your Life,” “Do You Love Someone,” “Enlighten Me,” “Good Morning” & “Don’t Stop Making It Happen.’