15 In Philly: The Bigger Lovers’ “How I Learned To Stop Worrying”

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.


Full disclosure: Two members of this now-defunct quartet currently write for MAGNET. Perhaps there’s some favoritism in citing the Bigger Lovers’ debut album as one of our city’s finest records of the last 15 years. Maybe we’re paying arrears for the unjust treatment of power-pop bands from every town, in every era. How I Learned To Stop Worrying appeared in 2001 like a red balloon, floated over the city by a tiny indie label (Black Dog) and lifting hopes that here, too, was a classic sighting: a basement-fi, reverb-heavy album that could pass for a thrift-store, ’60s-vinyl treasure. On Worrying, singer/guitarist Bret Tobias and Co. proved themselves scholars of Big Star and the Soft Boys, updating the usual influences with splashes of Superchunk-styled rockers and a pinch of the magic-dust melody found on Wilco’s Summerteeth. Balancing heady pop smarts with scrappy inspiration, on these 11 songs the students became the masters.

—Matthew Fritch

“Summer (Of Our First Hello)” from How I Learned To Stop Worrying: