There’s an immediate punch to Sports Team‘s sound that intrigues you from their opening notes. A certain level of brashness, and a fast-and-loose approach to their debut album Deep Down Happy that sets you in step to instantly love the release.
The English six-piece have built a loyal and passionate following on UK shores. That has allowed them to build a live show which fans have continually embraced. Of course, quite often bands that build their names on the back of a live show don’t always translate that well to life in a recording studio. But, thankfully, I’m here to say that they well and truly deliver on the hype; with wit and a tongue-firmly-in-cheek approach delivered on all songs.
That previously mentioned immediacy hits the listener from the first note of the album. The howling vocals of frontman Alex Rice burst out on “Lander”. There’s a yearning for bigger and better things, with Rice talking about heading to London for more opportunities. It’s the exact type of song you’d expect to either open or close a live set.
Next follows “Here It Comes Again”, complete with one of the most infectious closing 30 seconds you’re bound to hear on a track in 2020. The angular guitars are slightly reminiscent of Is This It era The Strokes. While Rice’s delivery across the first few tracks would surely rival The Hives’ Howlin Pelle Almqvist at his peak.
Meanwhile, the melodies of “Camel Crew”, “Long Hot Summer” and “Feels Like Fun” all show a slightly more earnest side to the band. Rice sings on “Long Hot Summer” about not wanting to get caught up in the seemingly continuous web of drama a particular acquaintance always seems to bring.
The relentless wit throughout “Here’s The Thing” is a pretty blatant take-down of the condescending generational divide that exists between Boomers and, well, pretty much anyone younger than them. It’s this divide that Sports Team embrace throughout the whole of Deep Down Happy. Across the album’s run time the band do their best to plead the case for those of us who will inherit a world and economy that surely isn’t in the best shape it could be.
“The Races” bounces along with its jangly guitar and the relentless use of the hi-hat throughout the chorus. The fun continues with “Fishing” and the cheeky “Kutcher”. It’s an ode to wanting someone to love you like you love them. An undercover love song that gets progressively sadder with every listen.
Closing out the record is the brilliant “Stations of the Cross”. The album’s closer harks back to those opening sentiments. Of longing for more opportunities that only big cities bring. After all, the album is bookended with the lyric “but if you want to find love you can always go to London.”
For a debut album built on the back of an infectious live show, Sports Team have well and truly delivered on the hype. With no obvious shortfalls during its run, Deep Down Happy could well prove to be one of the best debut albums released this year.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Sports Team’s debut album Deep Down Happy is out now on Dew Process. Grab yourself a copy HERE.
Find our interview with the band HERE.