The Philly-based, Texas-bred band's sound isn’t new, but it feels like a novel approach in 2014. 

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The sound of Chorus — the sophomore album from the Philly-based, Texas-bred Literature — isn’t new. But it feels like a novel approach in 2014. You simply don’t hear too many guitarists trying to match the zip of Johnny Marr’s work on “This Charming Man” or the simple, poignant beauty of Big Star’s seminal #1 Record, be it that those are both too tall of orders or just because guitar pop isn’t as sexy as it once was.

“There’s definitely a shortage of it,” said singer/guitarist Nathaniel Cardaci, lusting for the days of Teenage Fanclub in the early ’90s. “It cycles in and out, but truly, at the core of it, that’s what we want to do. We are really focused on writing these catchy choruses. That’s what’s most important.”

If the many years Literature’s members have collectively dedicated to the DIY community — in the form of house venues, small record imprints and singer-guitarist Kevin Attics’ music journalism credits, including Pitchfork and more — have shaped anything beyond the band’s playfully lo-fi aesthetic, it’s a desire and work to create out of a pure place. Trends, money, influence — they evaporate quickly. If nothing else, a great melody can buzz about forever.

“Whether it’s packing up tapes or being on stage and performing, we love doing all those things,” Cardaci said. “There’s a persistence involved, no matter how high or low things go. It’s a labor of love, and that’s what music is for us.”

All this is still fun for the band, even as it steps up to another plane, inking a deal with Slumberland Records (a perfect home that finds them on a roster with like-minded acts The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Frankie Rose) after their well-received 2012 debut Arab Spring, released through their own label Square of Opposition.

“When we started the band, it was more of a freeform party vibe,” Cardaci said of the reflection and minor reinvention heading into Chorus. “With this one, we sat down a little more and really focused on the songwriting, in a sense.”

That meant tightening things up, taking the catchiest pockets of Arab Spring — like those found on “Lily” and “Push Up Bra” — and digging deeper into what truly made their guitar pop heroes great, specifically studying their studio processes and expanding Literature’s own.

“We’re proud that we really got in there and worked on it in a different way than the first one,” Cardaci said of the new album’s fleshed-out sound. “We went to a different studio and stepped out of our comfort zone, really embracing the production techniques we heard in other people’s music that we loved, from the ’60s to the ’80s.”

Maybe Literature is going to be the group to make guitar pop cool again, something that hasn’t been the case since Maximo Park and The Futureheads’ brief flare-ups in the mid-2000s. The new record’s positive reviews made it possible, and the group looks to quickly add to that momentum by recording its third LP this winter.

But the band will have a Chorus’ worth of memorable ones no matter what, and that seems like it’s about all Literature is asking for.

Print headline: Novel Concepts Guitar pop revivalism is alive and well, and Literature is well read in the classics.

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Joshua Boydston

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