Music Reviews

2nd Grade Easy Listening

(Double Double Whammy) Rating - 8/10

If the late 2010s brought about a crop of artists influenced by the punkier side of power pop, recent years have shifted to artists refreshing the tuneful, old-fashioned side of the genre. Philly outfit 2nd Grade does serve at the altar of this timeless sound on their second LP, but their influences run a wider gamut compared to the crunchier, Guided by Voices-inspired swagger that's fairly more common. Throughout its zippy, 35-minute runtime, the band covers a delightful sorting of wistful cuts, whether it's Marshall Crenshaw-like 50's surf pop balladry (Wouldn't It Be Nice to Let It Be), Raspberries-indebted glam stomp (Strung Out on You), or sensitive, suburban melancholia á la Fountains of Wayne (Me & My Blue Angels). It's not all bittersweet ennui, as the band balances plenty of observational humor and pathos in Kramer in L.A. and Keith and Telecaster. On the bracing anthem Teenage Overpopulation, 2nd Grade turn their back to the pleasures of teen pop fandom and its icons with a touch of sardonic awareness—far removed from the power pop acolytes of yore who didn't worry about much but crushing on girls and wondering whatever happened to fun.