Alex Lahey - B-Grade University

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:10 Release Date:2017-02-10

The other week I had to do some odious tasks around my home, but with all such things, music helps the medicine go down, so to speak. I put on Alex Lahey’s EP B-Grade University to give it my initial listen. I have no idea how many times the five songs looped, but if it wasn’t for the fact that my tasks got completed, I’d still be listening to it now. In fact, I am as I type. Fact is, sometimes albums take a while to sink in, and other times they are an adrenaline shot right into our heart, blasting us to life like Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Such is the case with this brilliant handful of straightforward alterna-pop. Her debut release, the five-song EP B-Grade University, is a joyful set of trebly, fuzzy, pop-perfect melodies underscoring smart, wry, self-effacing, and even heartbreaking lyrics. My only complaint is that there isn’t more.    

On the opening track “Ivy League,” she reveals she’s down with humorous self-criticism as well as that of a generation of millennials when she sings, “I went to B-Grade University and got myself an art degree.” “Let’s Go Out” features one of the many earworm choruses (on an EP overflowing with them), sung with dripping sarcasm and resignation. This is not a party song. “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” features a tongue twister chorus and desperate pleas to be given one more chance even if it leads again to repeated heartbreak, paired with an oddly catchy melody. Fuck you, ballads. “L-L-L-Leave Me Alone” rounds out the collection with an awesome twangy guitar accompaniment for her snarky take on an ex-lover.

“Wes Anderson,” is the highlight, a quirky dork-fest love song. A chugging, crunchy distorted melody is accented perfectly by understated riffs and lines like this: “You’re the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had” and “Every day with you is my lucky day.” These are aw-shucks, journal entry confessions, perfectly droll poetry to accompany rock solid pop sensibilities. Sure, these could be lumped into the vast chasm of superficial music that you may forget tomorrow, but it hits the right buttons every time I spin it, and I’ve been spinning it practically non-stop for weeks, so, that counts for something, right? Which brings me to my dilemma.

Despite having this on repeated spins over the last few weeks, I’ve nonetheless been agonizing over the review. Do I give a glaring 10 to an album purely because it’s so catchy I can’t stop listening to it, or do I temper the strong appeal to my own sweet spot and pull out the magnifying glass to properly dissect for critical flaws? Final answer? I’m going all in and surrendering myself to this aural heroin.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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