On the one year anniversary of Grouplove’s 2020 album ‘Healer,’ ‘This Is This’ arrives with the scream and distortion of ‘Primetime’. “It’s primetime, baby!” shouts frontwoman Hannah Hooper.
Evolving from where their last record left off, the band returned to a sound that’s far more bare, aggressive, and loud. ‘This Is This’ goes further, offering up their loosest record to date. The track ‘Primetime’ sets the tone from the start. We hardly live during a prime time, do we? Or do we?
Grouplove are no strangers to hardships, and any time they’ve had to deal with lineup changes, health scares, or societal upheaval, their response has been to dig deeper to find their best expression. During a time in which the collective human experience has been put through tremendous challenges, Grouplove have cast off expectations and outside pressures, and again, found their voice.
First, they relocated. Leaving LA, Hooper and guitarist Christian Zucconi moved to Atlanta, Georgia in the latter half of 2020, joining bassist Daniel Gleason. Along with guitarist Andrew Wessen and drummer Ben Homola, they were able to really look inward, and recall why they started to make music more than ten years ago, before the successes of ‘Tongue Tied’, Coachella performances, world tours, etc. They were able to make music without the promise of a live audience, and without the pressure of a traditional rollout.
When Grouplove released ‘Healer’ as the pandemic took full effect they were in some ways broken-hearted. Grouplove are the type of band whose records are meant to be performed on stages with surges of people dancing and singing and reaching out their hands. But without touring, the band discovered a new sense of what it meant to share music with and perform for an audience, as they became accustomed to utilizing Instagram Live and other platforms. From this, they found a new appreciation and closeness with fans.
The writing that took place after the release of ‘Healer’ was their most cathartic yet. Hooper had a lot to let out, and took a step up lyrically. You hear the gigantic exhale of her inner experience on the driving, addictive, deliciously riotous choruses throughout the album, and particularly on ‘This Is The End’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Just What You Want’. The recording sounds immediate because it was immediate. ‘This Is This’ was recorded in a burst of a few days. It contains all the excitement and relief that came with finally being able to spend time in a room together after being apart.
No longer concerned with denying aspects of themselves, or fixing that which seemed broken, writing was an exercise in acceptance. The songs emerged in full: words, riffs, rhythms, backing vocals. It was one of their most powerful creative periods; one that felt both vulnerable and safe. In the end, there were five people in a room, grateful to have produced the sound that they needed in order to release all of the anxiety, fear and wondering. At the end of ‘Shout’, the album’s closer, there’s an extended jam that sums up the entire record. Just squalling guitars, Hooper’s uninhibited shrieks, and clattering drums. Lead single ‘Deadline’ is a hilarious, psychedelic dance that plays out like playground chants between Hooper and Zucconi. During the chorus they free themselves from what they should deliver, and instead wake up to life.
You can imagine why it’s called ‘This Is This’. There’s no concept. It is just what Grouplove wants to present to the world right now. If there’s any additional message to impart, it’s that they want to encourage everyone else to wake up to their innermost voices and desires. There’s a dimension here that we’ve never heard from them before. The weight of this time has been equally shouldered by everyone in the band and the result of that has been an absolute nakedness that’s bright, catchy and therapeutic. It’s the sound of a band who have discovered who they really are and don’t intend to stop.
“We hope this album gives people the permission to scream or headbang or punch walls,” Hooper says. “It’s important to stay emotional. The whole rainbow is important. If we just live in the light blues, are we really alive? We’re not. We need to feel it all.”