These are tumultuous times, and everything about the world as we know it is shifting—or maybe the cracks that were always there are just revealing themselves.
In these times, we desperately need healers and leaders. Those healers will come in different forms, but musicians and artists definitely have important roles to play.
With the release of their new album, Healer, Grouplove (of all bands) proves that they just might be the healers we've been looking for. The group's fourth studio album comes alongside another announcement: They're partnering with the climate change company Chooose, making history as the first UN-certified American band to guarantee climate positivity on future tour dates. That means they'll be offsetting their carbon footprint entirely by donating to the Indian nonprofit FinnSurya Solar Project and focusing on sustainable practices during the tour.
"Unlike our president, we trust in science and want to lower our carbon footprint," said lead singer Hannah Hooper. "We found Chooose to help us do this. We hope you are doing your part in taking care of our beautiful planet." The band is also working with the Ally Coalition, an organization dedicated to bringing at-risk LGBTQ+ youth to every performance, and they're partnering with HeadCount, an organization that registers voters at concerts.
Of course, it's hard to say when this tour and all its moving parts will actually be happening. Like many other touring acts, Grouplove has canceled all their future dates for the time being.
Their album's release comes in the midst of a cataclysmic virus, but strangely enough, Healer feels ready-made for these times.
This is the Grouplove that you may know from the impossibly infectious song "Tongue Tied," which likely soundtracked all your high school party playlists. While Healer bears some of the same compassionate energy that made "Tongue Tied" so wonderfully warm to the ears, it's also impressively mature, wise beyond its years and yet determined to cling to the moment.
Healers is all-over-the-place in the best of ways. It's one of those rare birds that manages to be political and honest without being cheesy or depressing. Instead, it's euphoric and tightly wound, full of frayed, radio-friendly earworms with plenty of substance and spine.
Grouplove - Youth [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com
Highlights include "Expectations," a song that guides the listener on a trippy, slightly disorienting labyrinth through life in the 21st century. The earworm of the chorus, like so much of the group's music, feels softly lit from the inside, buoyed by an internal energy. "Just dance, just dance, pick up all your clothes and let's step into the fire," sings lead singer and Hooper's partner Christian Zucconi. The song addresses someone with too many expectations and obligations—or perhaps it addresses all of us, in the midst of our chaotic, meaninglessly overfilled lives. It perfectly describes the millennial ennui and the desire to completely escape the whole system that so many of us feel, but in a way you can dance to.
"Promises" gets overtly political, becoming a powerful protest song. "Nothing disappoints me like the news," sings Zucconi, a statement that's never felt truer. "Nobody been keeping their promises. Somebody better keep their promises." Inspired by Trump's family separation policy, the song feels applicable to almost everything in modern politics.
"Ahead of Myself" casts its gaze inward, telling an intimate story about drinking too much, feeling overwhelmed by everything left to be done, and drowning it all in one last drink at the end of the night.
The pain in singer Hannah Hooper's voice comes from a very real place: Hooper had to undergo brain surgery during the album's creation. The band distracted themselves by throwing themselves into music, retreating into a house to record in California, and Healer was the result.
"We kind of collectively as a band started realizing that everyone is in this constant state of trying to heal, and feel better," Hooper said. "I felt like I was finally in a place where I had something wrong with me that was like obvious, and because of that, I actually was putting all my time into the music. It felt like the first time I was actually really present, and really healing other subsconscious stuff that had been bothering me."
"Burial" is about this process. It's about abandoning illusions, addressing deep wounds, and coming out stronger. The song layers crunchy guitar over warped piano, and when it collapses into a slow-burning chorus, the album's central theme comes to the fore. Healer is really about resilience, first and foremost, and "Burial" is an ode to the way humans (and nature, and pretty much everything in this world) can grow back after disaster, and can create in the midst of it.
There's a warmth at the core of Grouplove's music that feels like it could be genuinely healing if you open your heart to it. That was always the band's intention. "We wanted to put out a really positive, loving message in these fractured times," Zucconi says. "It just came to us that we all need healing: Everyone does it, everyone needs it."
Here's to Healers, and to healing. To healing from the virus, yes, but also to healing on a deeper scale, on a societal scale, because the world was sick long before the coronavirus—sick with capitalism, climate change, inequality, and so much more. And here's to letting loose a little, and creating a reprieve in the midst of it all.