Many members of the L.A. quintet Grouplove have had their bodies emblazoned with "Grouplove" tattoos, so they're nothing if not committed to the project. That full-bore, all-in approach comes through in their songs, too: Like Grouplove's ingratiating debut (2011's Never Trust a Happy Song), the new Spreading Rumours positively brims over with scrappy, happy, sinewy little earworms.
If there's a watchword for Spreading Rumours, with its dollops of Sunset Strip gregariousness and sweet boy-girl choruses, it's not so much excess as abundance: Forty-five minutes into the record, where most bands would be burying deep cuts, Grouplove is still dispensing impossibly infectious would-be hits like the unshakeable "Raspberry."
At times, the hookiness can border on overbearing; the insistent "Ways to Go" even ventures perilously close to the cloying territory once mined by Barenaked Ladies' "Two Weeks." But on balance, the candy-coated craftsmanship and joy on display throughout Spreading Rumours makes the record ludicrously easy to love — a welcome dose of summertime, just in time for fall.
- First Listen: Sebadoh, ' The band's first album since 1999 once again mixes unlikely sensibilities: miserablism made vital by gritty forcefulness, scabrousness harnessed in the pursuit of beauty. Even as singer Lou Barlow offers up clear-eyed postmortems of a wrecked marriage, Defend Yourself exudes the live-wire energy of musicians brought back from the brink.
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