Rating: 7.5 // 10
Released: Date, Record Label
Sports Team are a perfect representation of England in 2020 – Middle Englanders trying to pretend they’re something they’re not. However, their talent shines through their faux-working class lyricism.
Labelling fellow British debutants HMLTD as “the worst band ever” for simply going to a lesser university than their precious Cambridge should tell you all you need to know about Sports Team.
Whilst the band isn’t afraid to poke fun at themselves and the Middle England that formed them, they also aren’t afraid to punch down on those perceived lower than them.
Overall it sounds like the exact type of person Pulp sang about in Common People – whilst also mimicking the delivery of lead singer Jarvis Cocker throughout this project.
However, whilst the paradox of the band’s image and entitlement still stands, this is a solid debut that proves English indie-rock still has legs to it.
The instant energy of Lander gives us a taste of what it is come, and so does the constant change in delivery from Alex Rice. After the frantic start the song slides into calm, before being dragged elsewhere by Rice’s almost manic, frenetic change of pace via his vocals.
Here It Comes Again plays on repetitive verses, choruses and instrumentals to replicate the monotony of Middle Class life. Going Soft is also similarly repetitive and rigidly structured, but that constant change in delivery and inflection from Rice keeps things interesting.
The pacing on this album is spot-on throughout, with no songs really dragging on past their welcome. Camel Crew sees more of the same middle-class struggles dictated, alongside a follow up dig to HMLTD, which comes across as petty and pointless.
The song meanders between paces, which is a nice change for a largely straight-played tracklist.
Long Hot Summer is the most understated song on the album, and whilst fairly basic in structure is again a welcome switch-up from other songs on the project. Not quite moaning or making really insightful commentary on society, this is a far more personal song about a relationship, and the subdued tone of it fits nicely.
The following track Feels Like Fun picks the pace up a bit, with almost droning guitars surrounding the chorus. The song really comes in to its own right at the end, with the mayhem inspired ending. The pointed political commentary on this is a bit more vague and metaphoric, compared to the heavy, on the nose lyrics from the next track, Here’s The Thing.
Whilst I find the words on this so blindingly obvious and so tongue-in-cheek it’s ripped through the side of your face, the repetition, bounciness kinda fit in with the basic observations. Definitely fits as a the lead single, the breakdown half way through adds something to what would be a very formulaic song.
The Races paints the clearest picture of any song, detailing the insufferable types you’ll find throughout British life. Self-centred and opinionated, ironically just like the band, it is a common sight at many different events in the UK, and the story it paints is perfectly imaginable.
I’d argue after reaching the mid-point of Here’s The Thin / The Races follows a strong finish, starting with Born Sugar. Rice has a malleable voice, and whilst it can sound heavily influenced by Damon Albarn (listen to most of these songs and you’ll want to shout out Parklife in the lulls) and Jarvis Cocker, the frequency of changes to delivery keeps it entertaining throughout.
Fishing and Kutcher revert to a fusion of 00’s British indie-rock with post-punk vocals, and in the case of Fishing, probably thanks to Matty Healy, who wrote the song and promptly sold it to Sports Team.
Despite the business dealing, the two singers have engaged in light subtweets and mild beef, indicating that Alex Rice is going to be a headline generator from his mouth.
Kutcher‘s instrumentals are the most memorable on the track, and the lyrics regarding Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are funny yet oddly relatable, and again paints a clear picture.
The closing track Stations of the Cross rounds off the strong finish to an album that gives a good showing of the band. In a scene that has faded to the background in recent years, there is an opportunity to quickly rise to the top of the genre.
Sports Team aren’t quite there yet, but this debut indicates that we will be talking about them and anticipating more music sooner rather than later.
- Lander (B+)
- Here It Comes Again (B)
- Going Soft (B)
- Camel Crew (B+)
- Long Hot Summer (B+)
- Feels Like Fun (B+)
- Here’s The Thing (A-)
- The Races (B+)
- Born Sugar (B)
- Fishing (B+)
- Kutcher (B+)
- Stations of the Cross (B+)