ARTIST: Sports Team
ALBUM: Deep Down Happy
LABEL: Island Records
WORDS: Tash West
Guitar bands used to dominate the UK music scene in “the good old days” didn’t they? To be honest, we got a bit bored of them. The live and recorded aspect of the scene was severely saturated with loud scratchy guitar tones and like most trends it began to fade away. But we’ve had some time off, some time to reminisce and it’s time for a comeback. Sports Team’s debut LP Deep Down Happy has been eagerly anticipated and it hasn’t disappointed.
There is an array of sounds in this release, it’s chaotic yet so melodic it almost feels like you’re in some kind of summer festival blending machine
This album is full of UK cultural references, from opening track ‘Lander’ (“and on the weekends he goes out for a bit, to The Slug and Lettuce or Wetherspoons or that shit”) to semi-referencing British fashionistas Trinny and Susannah on ‘Going Soft’. There is an array of sounds in this release, it’s chaotic yet so melodic it almost feels like you’re in some kind of summer festival blending machine. Many of these tracks definitely have a festival feel to them, especially ‘The Races’ with it’s la-la-la-ing and a ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads kind of vibe at the beginning (‘ah-ah-ah-ah…’). Similarly, Talking Heads are also referenced in ‘Feels Like Fun’ – whether it’s an Alan Bennett reference or the American rock band is up for discussion.
This is a new wave of punk meets Britpop
Frontman Alex Rice really is arguably one of the best frontmen around right now and every single word that comes out of his mouth on the album is projected in a way that makes you feel like you’re in the same room as him when you’re listening to the record. Some tracks definitely have a nineties Britpop feel to them, notably ‘Camel Crew’ does sound like it was pulled from a Suede album (but with a punkier makeover) and ‘Born Sugar’ has a hint of a Sleeper-esque hue – yet, Sports Team are still unapologetically unique in a way that really represents modern day Britain. This is a new wave of punk meets Britpop.
This album is fun. Yes, the lyrics mean something – they’re honest and youthful (yet colloquially present) and anecdotal of the past but it’s still modern and new. Although with references such as “I pray the CD don’t skip” in ‘Going Soft’ and “I just wanted to be your mid-naughties MTV Star” in Kutcher, a somewhat ode to Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore – these references are hard to ignore. But if you put the lyrics to one side for a moment, the music itself is anarchic, almost organised mayhem and just purely enjoyable. Although ‘Fishing’ creates the general notion that people just don’t speak to each other like they used to and are obsessed with the material things in life, it’s so upbeat and enjoyable that you don’t not want to dance to it. Likewise, ‘Here It Comes Again’ is the ultimate festival anthem that will make you get your jive on.
Deep Down Happy is so refreshing it’s hard to see what the future will bring for Sports Team when this is their first full length release. Where will they go from here? We have no clue, but if it’s anything in terms of the energy brought forward here we know it will be brilliant. This is only the beginning for Sports Team.
Deep Down Happy is out now via Island Records