Buzz for this album has been predicated largely on the strength of lead single ‘Colours’, which is as bouncy as you’d expect from a bunch of twentysomethings who met while on holiday in Crete, so the story goes. Never Trust A Happy Song might sound like a signpost for something self-aware, dark and dreary (sounds like a Mogwai album title to me), but the whole thing plays like a soundtrack for the first sunny weekend of summer, provided you’re spending it with a bunch of rich kids at a nice beach house.
Grouplove do carefree and happy-go-lucky well, but slip too often into juvenile and insipid, unable to stretch their energy sincerely across an entire LP. Part of the problem is structure and instrumentation; many of the songs sound too similar on the first few spins. ‘Itchin On A Photograph’ is one of the stronger cuts on the album, but any section of it could have been a verse of ‘Colours’ such are the similarities between the two. The ingredients of most songs become bland by the middle of the album too, the simplicity and repetition becomes grating.
The low point of the album comes with the saccharine sweet ‘Naked Kids’. Not only is the song largely the same acoustic guitar-based two-chord structure as most of the rest of the album, the lyrics and delivery are cringe-inducingly bad. The sugar rush bubbliness is turned up to eleven for a day ‘Cruisin’ down the highway with my friends’ and ‘lying in the sun when we’re done find a towel now we’re thinkin’ ‘bout where we’re gonna eat’. That’s not a lyric guys, that’s just a string of mundane stuff that happens when you go to the beach. Not every songwriter can be Morrissey, but ‘Naked Kids’ reads like a page torn from Rebecca Black’s notebook.
There are enough quality tracks on Never Trust A Happy Song for a very good EP, but enough repetition and banality to suggest that Grouplove have a way to go before they’ll be capable of producing a solid album. Hopefully future releases will involve a little more flexing of the creative muscles and less focus on cashing on what the band can do effortlessly, convey an infectious enthusiasm.