On first listen, there’s not that much separating Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s sophomore release, The Speed of Things, from the band’s 2011 debut, It’s a Corporate World. Pretty melodies, catchy hooks, and spacey synths are still at the forefront here, and frontmen Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott do an equally impressive job of harmonizing and leading the charge amid all the bells and whistles. In truth, what sets The Speed of Things apart is all in the details. And, oh, what lovely little details they are. The album opens with the ethereal “Beautiful Dream,” which moves from delicate to jangly with the flick of a switch. Later, “Hiding” captures bass and drums in a tug-of-war for the spotlight right up until the chorus kicks in. And lead single “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor)” finds the band building off an infectious guitar hook, interspersing snippets of sonic weirdness with a feather-light touch. That The Speed of Things is chock-full of catchy tracks is not the news here; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. have long established they can write a hook. What’s notable is the way the album rests on its heels while it reels you in. It’s pop music with no syrupy aftertaste, and we can’t get enough.


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