What happens when you take sugary Teen Beat harmonies, marry them to chunky guitar tones, and then throw in grownup lyrics? You get a timeless power pop treasure that instantly feels like a classic. On their second album, Conrad, Detroit band The Legal Matters have crafted songs of love and loss and wrapped them in sunny sweet melodies with just the right amount of ache.
Conrad is the kind of album that makes you want to give it to all your power-pop loving friends with a knowing smile. It’s Beatlesesque, via Jellyfish. It’s like Matthew Sweet is fronting the Judys (minus the nuttiness of the Judys). It’s like Sloan’s Jay Ferguson got to take over the band entirely and created an album that fully embraces that AM radio aesthetic. And the cover is adorable.
Every track on Conrad is awash in glorious layers of harmony from Chris Richards, Andy Reed, and Keith Klingensmith. It’s delicious. And charming. The aching yearn of “Anything” is cuddled by the lovely harmonies, and “Minor Key” has a wonderful Beach Boys-like shimmer to it. “I’m Sorry Love” boasts a wonderful, ear-catching bridge that makes a relisten mandatory.
Even when they get a bit cross, The Legal Matters wrap that pain in deliciousness. “Short Term Memory” is sweet, angry nostalgia/”what the hell happened to music and culture?” in a tasty package of meaty guitars. The stinging lyrics of “Pull My String” are enveloped in gorgeous harmony and melody and that spoonful of sugar makes the bitterness go down. “The Cool Kid,” with sweet swooning harmonies, is wistful feeling and dissolves in a glorious fadeout.
Conrad is an accomplished, solid album. It’s the kind of album you want to disappear into. The Legal Matters takes the guilty pleasure out of power pop (if that’s your sort of guilt). The lyrics are “older and wiser.” They’re a bit rueful, a bit wistful; grownup lyrics cloaked in delicious sweet boy harmonies and melodies. The words resonate about painful, adult things that maybe you understand better if you’ve been heartbroken a few times. Or a lot of times.
Conrad was released on October 28 from Omnivore Recordings.