Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
This young six-piece met while studying at Cambridge University and are now living in London. They have made a name for themselves in the music press through their guitarist and songwriter Rob Knaggs and lead singer Alex Rice’s bombast and ambition in interviews. They have said that their aim is to play at Knebworth and are known for their full-on live shows: cathartic and sweaty for teenagers who are looking for a movement to dance to. There has been a trend of hard indie music paired with socially conscious lyrics, and Sports Team’s sound brings to mind Squid and to a lesser extent IDLES.
Rice’s delivery is raucous and fun to listen to, his voice drenched in reverb and excitably jaded. The band has said they owe a lot to poet John Betjeman whose poems and documentaries “poked around suburban Britain with appalled fascination”, as their Spotify blurb explains.
The album opens with Lander on which Rice notes “you’ve been waiting for a while, down near Aldershot municipal gardens”. The chaotic wildness sets the tone for the rest of the album, as well as vignettes about life in England, told with specificity. Rice names a load of middle England towns where the band is from “Aldershot, Camberley, Staines” the ambitions therein: “I wanna be a lawyer/Or maybe someone who hunts foxes.” He takes aim at Instagram wannabes: “Working on your poses/And living on a yacht in your dreams” when the actual extent of their nightlife is “Slug and Lettuce, Wetherspoon’s… there’s no club anymore/ if you want drugs you have to go to London.” The go-to London refrain is used twice in the album; they are not concerned with London, but rather the sometimes-boring yet complicated suburbs.
Stand out track and lead single Here’s The Thing pairs a catchy tune with a pithy deconstruction of our society, skewering all we’re told: “Here’s the thing… if you change the way you eat you’ll never die/ Working hard is better for your soul… it’s all just lies, lies, lies, lies”.
Not every track works. The Races owes a lot to Blur’s Charmless Man and the archetype working-class patriot it depicts has had a landfill of scathing songs written about him recently. It seems an easy target and doesn’t add anything new to the debate. Kutcher is a love song with a mystifying pop culture reference.
However, the album is an energetic statement of intent, the vignettes are vivid and funny and the music is roaming and complex.
Sports Team is released on 19th June 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Sports Team’s website here.
Watch the video for the Here’s The Thing here: