Album: 2nd Grade – Hit to Hit review

by Philip Moss

‘Fun, fun, fun,’ sang The Beach Boys in 1964 on just one of a number of smash hits that documented the carefree, party lifestyle of the teens living the California myth. Fast forward 55 years, and although it was written in a back yard on the East coast in Philadelphia, 2nd Grade’s Hit to Hit suggests Peter Gill’s philosophy is not much different.

In 2018, Gill released Wish You Were Here Tour – a solo record made in his garage, and his first under the 2nd Grade moniker. But Hit to Hit is the first release a band – and the collaborative nature doesn’t just seep through, but rather leaps from the speakers. The smattering of singles that punctuate the album are noise bombs that are ideal preparation for the collection as a whole. With the hybrid energy of The Replacements and Weezer, Velodrome is perhaps the catchiest of the lot, while Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider moves from a kindergarten lesson into a recall of actors from the 1969 road movie – with the kind of carefree, nursery rhyme melody that whirlwinds across Hit to Hit, and makes it so utterly addictive.

At 24 songs in just 41 minutes, the songs leave as quickly as they arrive – Gill’s philosophy being that the modern world presents a million things that compete for people’s attention. But despite the brevity, it in no way makes the songs feel throwaway, and they are packed with exciting and inventive ideas. Boys in Heat is melodically brilliant, W2 is jammed with spiky, slapdash guitars, and there’s definitely an intriguing sustainability to the economical structures of Sucking the Thumb and the lo-fi, early Pavement feel of Jazz Chorus, both of which clock in at under a minute.

Of course, the record was not written to be released during a world pandemic, and Gill’s plans to tour the album have been curtailed along with so many musicians around the world. But Hit to Hit is made to be played loud, and is certainly the dose of ‘fun, fun, fun’ that we are all crying out for right now.

Secret Meeting score: 85

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