Who Should Buy This: People who have a sense of humor and enjoy pondering about life and the world. Alternative fans absolutely need to own this album. Technically speaking, this is probably one of the greatest albums of 2016 so far. (See parental guidance for more direction on whether or not to buy this for you/your family. I personally bought the album and then deleted three of the tracks. Do with that info what you will.)
Album: Big Mess
Genre: alternative, pop, rock
Music Rating: 10/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: Atlas Genius, Matt and Kim, Young the Giant
Interesting Fact: The band members of Grouplove met at an artist residency in Greece. (Hannah actually met Christian just before leaving for Greece and invited him to go with her.)
Bonus Fact: Grouplove has one torso. Only one.
Best thing About this Album: The intellectual humor both musically and lyrically is just next level.
One thing I wish was different: I make no secret of the fact that I don’t listen to music with swear words (and similarly questionable content) in it. While I don’t believe in artistic or emotional censorship (nor do I think pushing my own life choices on others is an appropriate response), a clean version of the album might be the only thing that would allow me to enjoy it more fully. Call me immature or old-fashioned, but I could’ve done without the cussing and references to “girls on the internet”.
Tracks that Anie didn’t delete: 8
Favorites: Welcome To Your Life, Enlighten Me, Good Morning, Spinning
Parental Guidance: Enlighten Me has the phrase “I love it when I get high”. Cannonball has the phrases “Oh my Lord” and “bringing all hell to the floor” in the chorus, as well as a severe swear word in the second verse (partially obscured, but very clearly understood). Traumatized has a severe swear word in the first verse (shouted, but partially distorted). Don’t Stop Making It Happen talks about “that love we made” and references “girls on the internet” in a rather suggestive manner.
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that I would recommend (i.e. don’t contain swearing or suggestive lyrics). It will automatically play through all 8 songs. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
Right now you might be saying to yourself: Anie, what are you even doing right now? You don’t like music with swears and such in it. This is not any of your business to be talking about. Step off!
And you would be somewhat correct. It’s not fully my thing. While I am unbelievably obsessed with side A of the album, I was going to let it slip by without going in depth about it here on my website. Then, I saw a ridiculous piece of cantankerous nonsense masquerading as an album review on another site, and I knew that I had to say something. Do I love every part of this album? No. Would I recommend this full album to my friends? Probably not. Is it a well-written, mindblowingly amazing piece of art that Christian, Hannah, and Co. have gifted to us? You bet it is! Anyone who is so stuck on their own sense of self-importance and caught up in bizarre insecurities that they take offense at a group of creative people spreading joy and expressing themselves through art, needs to not have a job critiquing music. Differences of opinion are great and important, but inciting blind and self-congratulatory hatred does not make you intelligent. That’s just sad. Aside from the arbitrary and uncalled for bitterness, the commentary I read was wildly inaccurate and missing the point of the music entirely — to the extent that I wondered if they had even listened to the music on the album at all. Anywho, I’m all about positivity, so leaving that totally behind us, let’s talk about Grouplove.
Musically, this album is a wild ride down the perilous paths of the mind of an artistic genius. I don’t understand the cohesion at all, but it inexplicably works in gorgeous and hilarious ways. Beginning a bit pop/synth heavy, the lyrics are instantly equal parts comically playful and thoughtfully technical. Though I get the fun, carefree party vibe from “Welcome To Your Life”, I can’t shake the feeling that this song is less about a millennial lifestyle and more of a parental commentary directed towards a child/newborn.
Moving on to the second track of the album (more solidly in the rock category), I’ll give you a little insight into my thoughts via a string of texts I sent to my sister upon hearing “Do You Love Someone”.
(To be perfectly clear: I’m aware that this was completely intentional, and I fully love it.)
Going a bit more acoustic for the majority of “Standing in The Sun”, this guitar-centric track is a brilliant bout of (comparatively) calm introspection about the scope of the world and what one man can concretely know of it or do to change it.
Hold on to your hats, y’all, because I’m about to lose it on this next track. It is currently my most obsessed over song. When you see a song titled “Enlighten Me”, you automatically mentally prepare yourself and think: “Bring on the snark! This is going to be fun.” When I first approached this track in anticipation, eager to know more of the sassy narrative, I was completely bowled over to find that the title was in fact, entirely in earnest. This song is so much more than I was hoping for and the musical instrumentation of this track is nothing short of absolute perfection. It’s everything I never knew I needed in a song.
Moving on to “Good Morning”, I’m left with a bizarre feeling of complete understanding and vicarious embodiment of a notion I’ve heretofore been entirely unable to put into words. The track is brilliantly layered musically with some absolutely amazing interplay of instrumentations that are individually quite simple, but come together to have a legendary dance party.
“Spinning” (besides being an utterly delightful nod to the vinyl edition of this album) has a somewhat laid-back feel for the epic tale that it is of overcoming the madness of the omnipresent tumult of the world. Calling back a slightly more acoustic sound profile, it seems to be a pointed counterpart and follow-up to “Standing in the Sun”. Where “Standing in the Sun” ponders and gives off a sense of almost apathetic resignation, this song has reached an internal sense of meaning and purpose though the situation has not really changed. The progression of the narrative gives this track a particularly powerful and anthemic aura, though it’s much less musically bold than others at first listen — which is an important part of its impact.
The remaining five songs of the album have many amazing moments and powerfully brilliant effects as well, but as I did not have the same level of affinity towards them, I shall leave commentary to others. (I just have to say: Opera sneeze for the win!)
If you loved these songs as much as I did, please consider supporting Grouplove by purchasing the album from their webstore or buying singles from your favorite digital music store (iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, etc.) *NOTE: I preordered the vinyl upon hearing “Enlighten Me”, and I personally feel like it was worth the purchase solely for side A.
Holler at me in the comments! I’d love to talk to you all about this album. I’ll leave you with some of my favorite lines from each track.
“All the roads in this world were made by the young.” — Welcome to Your Life
“I wish I saw myself the way you see me now, cause you see that someone I always want to be.” — Do You Love Someone
“Run around ’til it all stands still.” — Standing in the Sun
“Indiscretion is a blessing if you know what you want to say.” — Enlighten Me
“From the black to the blue” — Good Morning
“I was broken. Now I’m brave.” — Spinning
“We’re just tales that are soon forgotten. ” — Cannonball
“The dream she was dreaming, it wasn’t made up.” — Traumatized
“Won’t you be standing next to me? Won’t you find this little heart of mine?” — Heart of Mine
“I could take the sky away. Put it in a payphone.” — Don’t Stop Making it Happen
“It’s the only thing worth knowing.” — Hollywood
If you’re interested with the vinyl edition of this album, check out my vinyl review for thoughts and info specific to the vinyl format as well as a lot of extra album commentary.