For the last five years, Straight A’s have made music that defies expectations, challenging the listener in a way that, while abstract, is not entirely foreign. Comprised of a prolific cast of talented multi-instrumentalists, Straight A’s includes Duncan Cherry on guitar/vocals, Sean Roberts on drums, Nate Smallwood on bass/vocals and oft-composer Andrew Padon as the lead vocalist. Together they create music that blends angular post-punk and hip-hop sensibilities, all of which are immediately apparent on their sophomore album, Humility the Hard Way, dropping Saturday from Noise Pollution Records.

Padon has a hard time attributing their longevity to any one thing. He notes, “This project was an opportunity for all of us to do something a little different, and I think we all like that challenge. Everyone is committed to bringing the material to life. I still look forward to every practice and every show — not only for the music, but just to hang out with these guys.”

Straight A’s took some time after their 2011 release, Self Help, to focus intently on making something that would surpass their debut. “We knew we wanted to take our time with the recording process and try out some new ideas,” Padon explains. “We didn’t set out to spend two years making an album, but hopefully people will be able to hear the work that went into it. Over the course of the recording, Sean basically built a studio, which opened up more possibilities for us to experiment. Plus we all started new projects in that time. I think Duncan alone started five or six new bands.”

The constituency of Straight A’s has flown many flags over the last two years, from Asm A Tik to Boo Bird to Late Ones. Padon muses, “Collectively, we have such a wide range of musical interests and endeavors. I think it helps us express other musical ideas without trying to cram everything into this one band.”

Witness them in action Saturday with XOX at the Mag Bar. Learn more at