Stemming from Queensland and Papua New Guinea, Sheppard have had break out success since they performed their hit “Let Me Down Easy” on national TV. The group of seven made their mark on the Australian music scene with their catchy hooks and unusual sound, and have since gone on to achieve global success with the album Bombs Away. Their latest single is “A-Grade Playa,” and while it doesn’t possess the same gusto of the chart-topping “Geronimo,” it shows us an in-depth side to the band with a grit that sets them apart from other pop acts.
Possessing a laid-back synth and pop sound, the song uses an electronic vibe to drive the tale of heart break. Catchy from the get-go, the female vocals are light and powerful towards the chorus. Saying, “I was a treasure and you had the key, but now it stays buried with me,” much of the song sounds like it was penned in a journal, and there is an angst and honesty within it that makes it compelling.
Without a doubt, the climax of this song is the chorus, and after initially taking away the instrumentation to provide room for synth, the full band comes in to accentuate the strength of the vocals. A clever keyboard riff comes in to add color and texture to the song, and through this, we are consistently given a fuller understanding of the track as it unfolds.
While the beginning of “A-Grade Playa” feels as though the band are giving about 60 percent, it leaves room for the vocals and instrumentation to develop and build, and this is what makes the track different to your blasé pop hit. The breakdown of the chorus coincides with a key change and a gutsy synth cut, and when this happens, you know Sheppard has not just released a feel-good, girl-power song. In fact, they’ve released a full throttle, angst-ridden tribute that encompasses the myriad of feelings that come after a breakup.
Spot on in production, “A-Grade Playa” shows us a greater depth of emotion from Sheppard. Good to groove to in the car, or if you prefer, ideal for throwing darts at a pic of your ex, this carries the laid-back quality of the Aussie act with enough oomph to remind us why they are taking the world by storm.