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2nd Grade | Hit to Hit

These Philadelphians could teach their indie-rock peers a thing or two.

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If Alex Chilton and the Johns from They Might Be Giants fronted Guided By Voices, Hit to Hit might be the music they would have made: Short, sharp nuggets of shimmery power-pop — along with the occasional blast of big dumb indie-rock — all decorated with jangling guitars, melancholy melodies, lyrics that are ironic and earnest in equal measure, and not a single ounce of compositional or instrumental fat. These guys could definitely teach some of their indie peers a thing or two.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “For Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature), the fearless leader of Philadelphia power-pop group 2nd Grade, being our full, open selves means we can be as sincere as we are sarcastic. New album Hit To Hit is about wearing your heart on your sleeve but at arm’s length. It’s about being both earnest and ironic. It’s playing with different selves yet managing to coalesce them into one identity; a self-aware and self-reflexive identity that makes the characters concocted by Gill amusing, relatable and insightfully authentic. Hit To Hit mirrors our multifaceted existence over 24, tiny tracks. Continuing with the fun-size structures of his previous LP, Wish You Were Here Tour, the songs act like a collection of short stories. There’s the adolescent, heartbroken tale of When You Were My Sharona, the anticipation of making memories on Summer of Your Dreams, the first taste of freedom on My Bike. While Hit to Hit is absolutely an intricate exploration of the human experience, it’s done — most importantly — with a wink, inviting you in on the joke. “In order to be honest, you almost have to make an effort to be funny at times in art,” Gill says. At the core of these narrative pockets is a person figuring out who they are, wrestling with the traditional ideas of masculinity by pushing those toxic, stereotypical traits of what makes a man a man to the point of absurdity. “Some of the songs take that approach of a person who feels like they have to be taking up so much space and adopting this super macho image,” Gill explains. “And then on the other side, some of the other songs present a vulnerability behind that and a lack of self confidence.” While 2nd Grade welcomes listeners to prod at the significance of these songs, Gill also wants to make it clear that Hit To Hit can be experienced as a simple collection of goofy pop songs. “That’s one way I can see this whole thing now. I wanted to write a bunch of really catchy songs and at the end of the day that would have been enough for me, just to put out an album with a bunch of great pop songs that doesn’t have to have some sort of deeper meaning.” On Hit To Hit, 2nd Grade beckons us to experience our own truth and that sometimes means not taking ourselves too seriously.”