Philadelphia’s 2nd Grade have returned with another fantastic dose of short burst power pop earworms on their third album Easy Listening. Musically and lyrically, Easy Listening is like a tribute record to some of the best in the genre that should bring to mind Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, Flamin’ Groovies and Guided By Voices. The group has mastered the short under 2-minute song burst and here 2nd Grade pushes some of their own earlier work with a more concise focus and a mix of lo-fi and hi-fi styles that are easy to connect with and make you want to hear them again.
From the Teenage Fanclub bounce and harmonies on “Strung Out On You,” complete with handclaps, to the upbeat hum on “Hung Up,” which would play nicely next to any Fountains Of Wayne track, 2nd Grade keep running ahead in this power pop groove. Compared to their early releases, I would say every instrument is a bit bigger sounding and delivered with more confidence. Where before, it sounded like 2nd Grade were finding their way, on Easy Listening the band knows exactly where they want to be. I also like how on several tracks the band pulls a classic Guided By Voices lo-fi approach with a song like “Hand Of The Brand” or “Planetarium.” This diversity, along with several slower tracks, keeps Easy Listening balanced. It also is great here how the band still finds plenty of humor in their lyrics like on the Seinfeld driven story “Kramer In LA” when singer Peter Gill sings “hell, I even miss Newman.”
2nd Grade have released one of the catchiest power pop records I have heard this year with Easy Listening. The album also is their best to date as it’s 35 minutes have a high replay value. There are only so many albums I have heard in 2022 that truly have stuck in my head – Easy Listening is one of them!
“Strung Out On You” / “Teenage Overpopulation” / “Planetarium”
ARTISTS WITH SIMILAR FIRE
Fountains Of Wayne / Teenage Fanclub / Matthew Sweet
2ND GRADE REVIEW HISTORY
Hit To Hit (2020)