26 September 2023


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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Grouplove, Canvasback Music/Atlantic records, 2020.

Grouplove is a Los Angeles-based band and the appropriately named, Healer is their fourth studio album.

The basis of the band is the husband and wife team of Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper and their fourth album is the first they’ve released since Hannah was diagnosed as needing brain surgery.

Hannah’s problems started in 2016 when she was preparing work for an art show of her paintings.

She discovered that she was losing control of the left hand side of her body.

In her own words it “felt like I was having a slow stroke.”

An MRI revealed that she would require surgery.

Brain surgery is aggressive and, interestingly, the first music they produced after the operation was aggressive grunge.

“It felt good to scream,” Hannah said.

The surgery can be seen as a watershed in the band’s development, for it marks a deliberate move to broaden their appeal from the confines of the L.A. grunge scene that they had occupied ever since their inception back in 2009, in a hippy commune in Greece.

For Healer they employed the services of producer, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio) and largely recorded the album in the Sonic Ranch studio in El Paso, Texas.

Up until this point the band had worked almost entirely with former drummer/producer, Ryan Rabin.

Sitek had heard demos of the lead single, Deleter and loved it (I do too) but he wanted to veer the band away from their grunge leanings to make them more universally appealing.

The biggest change he encouraged was to clean up the band’s sound and to extend the length of their songs.

He’s certainly achieved that – this new album is more pop than grunge although it still has that effervescent grunge energy at its heart.

Hannah Hooper is a charismatic front woman and the band, which is fleshed out with drummer Ben Homola, guitarist Andrew Wessen and bassist, Daniel Gleason along with songwriter/guitarist, Christian Zuccoli, shows the tightness of a band that has survived 10 long years of the inevitable ups and downs of band life.

If you’re interested, there are some great video clips of some the songs from the album at this YouTube link.

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