Sports Team Meet High Expectations with Sophomore Album Gulp!
4.5 out of 5 stars
The rising British rock band Sports Team released their sophomore album Gulp! which has me simultaneously remembering good Pixies music as well as The Hives mixed with a bit of Teddybears (mostly on the song “Dig!”) and Franz Ferdinand in there as well.
The band was our 2020 Best New Artist (just beating out Bartees Strange), and I had been flip flopping on that decision since that day, because Bartees Strange is insanely good, but I gotta say, with both acts putting out their second albums this year, it’s definitely a decision I can live with.
I think this whole album is full of clever lyrics, rocking music, and lots of variety that establishes Sports Team in the top tier of UK-based rock bands this year.
It’s equally impressive, because the band is quite new to the scene comparatively having formed in 2016 and sitting out almost 2 years due to the Pandemic.
I will say that their brashness does sort of get in the way of their talent at times, and other media sites will take those words even further. I don’t know everything about this band however. So, I can’t criticize that side too much, because it could all be for good reason.
I definitely think their talent is obvious, and their songs are all pretty damn good. This album is even better than their first in many ways for me.
The best examples of how this band can ascend the straightforward UK punk/alt rock genre is with the two songs “Getting Better” and “Light Industry” which are my two favorites on the album.
We’ll get to that in a moment though.
The album starts off with some songs that would absolutely crack off in a live setting with “The Game” being a burst of energy right off the bat and “Dig!” being that dancehall song you expect of an English rock band.
“The Drop” feels very influenced by Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” as an uptempo song with some baritone backing vocals that help reinforce the point of the song, but it is a rocking song for sure.
Things take a bit of a turn with “Cool It Kid” in the sense that the song turns directly into a melancholy romantic drama, and it is one of the best songs on the album with a female co-vocalist to counter the male lead’s perspective in the song.
“R Entertainment” definitely reminds me of Pixies with their backing vocals having a similar melody to the line “un chien Andalusia” in “Debaser” even though this song shares little with that song.
It’s mostly a social commentary on how the world has become a heaping pile of shit that we can watch on TV and movies as if it wasn’t really happening.
“Kool Aid” is in a similar vein lyrically as it seems to detail the misinformation that spreads so easily across the internet that people lap up to sound smart (and right).
I think “Getting Better” gets more to the core of the insecurities and real problems/feelings that of the band. The concept is simple, things always seem to go well until they don’t, and when your youth gives way to your mortality, you die.
Now, “Light Industry” is the best song on the album lyrically and sonically, in my opinion. It’s the perfect end to the 10-song release. It’s a response letter to the government, and a portrayal of a life smothered by big brother but without mentioning the government specifically. It is left open in ways that allow anyone to listen to it (whatever their political leanings) and realize that when things are shit, you can just pour yourself a drink.
This album is already doing quite well in the U.K., and it would be pretty cool to see it get some love over here in the U.S. as well.