Canvasback/Atlantic, 2011

Try your best not to miss the irony of Grouplove’s debut album’s title, because most of the songs on the album are fairly happy. And whether they are to be trusted or not is actually a pretty legitimate question. The blogosphere has been working overtime giving Grouplove plenty of props for their catchy, summertime-tinged stack of singles that have been put out via a self-titled EP and internet outlets, but now that a full album is here, can Grouplove carry an entire record armed only with nuggets of pop and internet hype?

The answer is…sort of. This is a tale of two albums, essentially. There’s the fun, incredibly addictive music that carried Grouplove into the limelight, with songs like “Colours” and “Naked Kids” that pack a super sweet pop punch in easy-to-digest dosages. “Tongue Tied” is another album standout; a opening mixture of acoustic guitars with thumping club beats and the familiar shout/sing of lead singer Christian Zucconi. In many ways, the shrill tenor-ed, easily danceable songs are becoming a bit of a genre in-and-of themselves. Acts like Kids of 88, The Limousines and now Grouplove are all youthful, energetic and highly contagious. It’s hard to hear one of their songs and not get the urge to move around, sing along, or take a drive with the windows down and do both.

Then there’s the boring half of the record. If Never Trust A Happy Song had been an EP maybe things could have been different, but stretching it out to twelve songs killed its momentum, leaving it with jostled pacing, stale music, and an album that, unfortunately, lacks memorability. And most of the really great cuts on here were from the earlier EP anyway. “Slow” lives up to its name, and plods along. “Betty’s Bomb Shell”, “Spun” and “Love Will Save Your Soul” all feel like afterthoughts, the “oh crap” moment where the band realized they needed to fill out the songlist. All boring, and uninspired. It validates our digital age of downloading individual songs and couldn’t be more disappointing compared to the rest of Grouplove’s good stuff.

Grouplove has the early distinction of being featured on a video game, major market motion picture soundtrack, and having a drummer who’s the son of Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin. They’re undoubtedly talented, and unquestionably poised to make some great music and gain lots of fans while they’re doing it. This just simply isn’t it. Chalk it up to youth, and the learning process.