Album review: ‘Spreading Rumours’ by Grouplove
For Fans of: Imagine Dragons, Young the Giant, Walk the Moon, fun.
Songs to Download: “Borderlines and Aliens,” “Schoolboy,” “Raspberry”
Grouplove skyrocketed to fame in 2011 with its infectious single, “Tongue Tied.” Its second album, “Spreading Rumours,” has some of the California beach-pop sound that made the group initially popular, but it also explores a wide variety of other genres from the synth-based sound so common in indie music today to fuzzed-out post-punk. However, at times Grouplove appears to be exploring too much as some tracks change pace and style abruptly mid-song.
The album’s first song, “I’m With You,” opens with a delicate piano part that wouldn’t sound out of place in a period drama’s soundtrack. For a band that is so talented at writing memorable hooks, this is an odd strategy, but from the start, the choice illustrates the upcoming variety on this album. At the two-minute mark, the soundscape fades away, and the song truly begins. The oohs and ahs that singers Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper trade are typical of many of the band’s songs in all the best ways.
The second track, “Borderlines and Aliens,” hearkens back to the first album’s other big hit, “Colours” (which was also the group’s first time using the British “ou” spelling). The guitars are bigger, and the lyrics are odd, but the shout-y lyrics make it fun. “Borderlines and Aliens” and the subsequent song, “Schoolboy,” are two songs that show how much fun it would be to be in a band like Grouplove. Zucconi and Hooper’s harmonies and exchanged lines are at their best on the album in these two songs. It’s the little things in “Schoolboy” that set it apart, specifically the grooving bass line and echoed vocals in the first half of the song.
“Ways to Go,” the first single from the album, is your stereotypical summer indie-pop song, right down to the last note from the keyboard. While still a fine song, it is too similar to so much other music out now.
The middle of the album begins to drag despite the many downright odd things going on in it. I admire the marimba flourishes in “Shark Attack,” but talk of natural disasters and sharks just makes me think of the TV movie event of the summer—“Sharknado.”
At 13 songs and 51 minutes, “Spreading Rumours” is a bit on the long side, but if you make it to the end, “Raspberry” is another highlight of the album. The wavering guitar sounds like it could be the work of the Pixies but in a very positive way.
Grouplove’s commitment to artistic integrity led it down a twisty road through this album, and while not everything on it works, the group seems to have avoided a sophomore slump. The consistent aspect of the better songs on this album was a heavier, guitar-based sound. Along with it being what Grouplove is better at, it’s a more unique sound in the world of music today. The band may have a way to go, but “Spreading Rumours” is still worth a listen.