March 13, 2020 Grouplove – Healer (Album Review)
First appearing on the Alternative Rock scene back in 2010, Grouplove has provoked a reaction ever since. In fact, within months of playing their first live show, they were on tour with Florence and The Machine and then The Joy Formidable. On top of that, shortly thereafter they were recognized as one the hottest new bands of the year!
So what is so fascinating about Grouplove? For starts, they are anything but an average Alternative Rock act. They combine various styles of music all while showcasing multiple voices where Keyboardist Hannah Hooper and Guitarist Christian Zucconi share the lead, but Andrew Wessen, also a guitarist, along with Bassist Sean Gadd join in on the fun. In short, they unify the approach of ’60s Rock-n-Roll with modern flare and textures. Delightful to listen to, they also bring a message about life, politics, and anything in between with their music worth paying attention to. First doing so with 2011’s Never Trust a Happy Song, before continuing through 2016’s Big Mess, after a four year gap they return on Friday, March 13th with their brand new album Healer via Canvasback Music and Atlantic Records.
Grouplove’s fourth overall studio album, this time they teamed up with Producer Dave Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Weezer) along with Malay (Frank Ocean, Lorde). Why is this important? It marks a new era for the band who’s previous three albums were produced by then Drummer Ryan Rabin. Unfortunately Rabin opted to leave the band, citing the lack of desire to be on the road any longer, ushering in new Drummer Benjamin Homola. Known for working with Manchester Orchestra’s Kevin Devine on his Bad Books project, for those have noticed, Homola has been behind the kit now for a few years with Grouplove on tour, so there is already a built in chemistry there.
All these factors in mind, the album features eleven new tracks that range from synth driven to stripped down Folk pieces. Then there is the heavy guitar powered single “Deleter” which first popped up back in January. Full of energy, it is a politically saturated anthem which leads off the album with a hit. This is before “Inside Out” which is a bit more mellow, but no less effective. Which leads to “Youth,” the first song with Hooper’s sweet sounding voice taking over as synthesizers dazzle in the background.
From here Healer dives into a variety of styles with the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers like “The Great Unknown” proceeds the warm layer of electronic tones wrapped in a beautiful message about living for the moment heard on “Youth.” Furthermore, “Places” is a heartfelt acoustic based track while “Promises” reminds us that it’s best to not look for salvation via any government entity. This is before Hooper’s sung “Ahead of Myself” where she reiterates the sentiment of “Youth,” but more bluntly saying ‘screw it,’ live for yourself. Which leads to the final three songs which are all over the map, from the smoothness of “Hail to the Queen” to harshness of “Burial,” and lastly, the dream inducing sensation of “This is Everything.”
Those who are fans of Grouplove will not be disappointed with this album… if they have an open mind. It is honest and topical, yet light-hearted in the aspect that Grouplove are staying true to themselves. There is no pretension amidst this music; it is just a band playing songs they believe in unified on one diverse album. So strap in, leave your judgement at the door and have a blast with Healer, because Cryptic Rock give it 4 out of 5 stars.