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Archie Powell & The Exports

We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.

Album: Great Ideas In Action by Archie Powell & The Exports (out now on Good Land Records)

Press play if you like: The Features, Elvis Costello And The Attractions, guitar-driven power-pop

Some background: With an EP and now two LPs under their belts, Chicago’s Archie Powell & The Exports are taking grander strides to achieve success on a larger stage. While the band’s previous LP, 2010’s Skip Work, felt featherweight at times, Great Ideas sounds powerful, with cranked-up electric guitars and heftier production courtesy of Milwaukee-based producer Justin Perkins. “I Need Supervision” starts quietly before a swirling organ and shimmering guitars send the song soaring into a classic pop “na na na” refrain. “Job Fair” begins life as a stomper, channeling the angst of a 20-something drifting through life with gallows humor—“Keep your head above or be subdued / You know you’re halfway dead no matter which you choose”—before the anxiety explodes into a chorus driven by buzzsaw guitar. The title track pays homage to the Pixies courtesy of Powell’s opening howl of “Where is my mind” and a gigantic hook that rides that song’s coattails. The band clearly isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve but when the results are this good, it hardly matters.

Try this: The rave-up “Crazy Pills” rides a driving organ riff to frantic heights, with Powell howling above chugging guitars and pounding drums. His lament has an edge: “Your little problem’s that you’re soaked in gin,” he sings, adding, “I’m sick of begging you to take the reins / wish I could chalk it up to growing pains.” It’s acerbic in a Costello vein, carrying a bite to match the sharp music.