The epitome of a mixed bag
Mason Meyers
12:38 11th March 2021

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The term mixed bag doesn’t even begin to describe Grouplove surprise fifth full-length LP This Is This. Moments of beautiful lyricism and complete and utter musical brilliance are tarnished with multiple instances of cringy vocal delivery, poor lyricism and occasional unbearable bouts of self-indulgence.

For their latest record, Grouplove have decided to take a new musical direction, this time choosing to go a punkier and darker route than the happy-go-lucky sound that can be found on their breakout 2011 hit 'Tongue Tied'. This culminates in a journey of sonic exploration for the band, but at times feels like a cheap replication of already better songs by older bands.

No where can this replication can be found more prominently than throughout the band’s first single from the album 'Deadline'. A surprise chorus breakdown sees the band breaking out into an almost identical 'Ricky' by Toni Basil musical cosplay. This short five-second detour from the rest of the song will either make or break your love for this majestical, impressively large, bombastic tune, depending on your love for all things corny. If you can withstand the lyrics “smash my face into the cake and celebrate”, you might just be able to find a new favourite song in this chirpy ode-to-what once-was.

The majority of the LP’s runtime is actively pleasant and engaging, with a variety of different sounds from sombre and hopeful in the acoustic ballad 'Oxygen Swimming' to the pumped-up and excitably grunge influenced opening track 'Prime Time'.

Penultimate track 'Shake That Ass', however, brings easily the most ear-achingly appalling cut on the album and is quite possibly the worst song to be written this decade. Not only are the lyrics almost completely unintelligible apart from the mind-numbingly painful  “Shake your ass on camera, shake your ass online, do your dance, do your dance, do your dance one more time”, but the majority of the song sounds like the band have heard one of the worse The 1975 songs and tried to replicate it, equipped only with soundproof headphones and a distortion and autotune vocal plugin for Fruity Loops.

The album luckily claws back some credibility with the lyrically and sonically dark final track 'Shout' with the song dealing with dark themes of self-hatred and abuse, topics sure to resonate in the hearts of anyone that has gone through a difficult relationship. Here singer Hannah Hooper provides her most heartfelt and raw vocal performance on the album. The track crescendos to a powerful climax with both singers taking turns providing their lyrical advice for the listener “shout, let it all out” and “you are not alone”.

It is a shame that this final track isn’t representative of the whole LP. The album all together makes for an easy listen, but for the most part, leaves a large amount to be desired from the L.A. indie heroes.

This Is This arrives 12 March via Atlantic.

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Photo: Press