Sports Team – ‘Deep Down Happy’

By Louis Kerry

The world has been turned upside down this year. While a global pandemic is hard to get away from in the media and on the streets, the increasingly talked-about Sports Team provide a thirty minute balance of ironic social commentary and outlandish post-punk that acts as a terrific form of escapism with lashings of humour.

On their debut album ‘Deep Down Happy’, the six-piece are bursting with creativity and have a lot to say. There’s certainly a sense of irony in a group of Cambridge graduates writing an album filled with third world problems, the mundanity of British life and all the cliches that come with it, but everything is done with self-awareness, sarcasm and a smile.

Singer Alex Rice’s most eloquently spoken British accent and funny-because-they’re-true observational style lyricism is the band’s biggest hook. With lines like “When the winter’s finally here, you can sit in your front room and laugh at your neighbours” the frontman’s sense of humour certainly goes a long way for the band on the album.

Owing some of their best quirks to Arctic Monkeys, the song ‘Camel Crew’ speaks up on British culture for all its flaws and graces with some hilarious observations (“this carvery is on the house, service is slow, all the glasses are stained, but carry on it always comes”). Lead single ‘Here’s The Thing’ comes with a sarcastic political kick to it, the track will have you laughing one moment and then frustrated with the country the next. Using tongue in cheek lyrics like “Companies care for the people they employ” and “Rule Britannia you’ll never walk alone” in the same song, it wouldn’t be surprising to mistake ‘Deep Down Happy’ for a comedy album.

The somewhat goofy ‘Going Soft’ is bound to be at the top of indie rock playlists next summer. Featuring a singalong chorus that every bucket hat wearing hipster will no doubt be screaming along to the words, “I only listen to old bands” on the festival scene next year. It’s a shame that Rice doesn’t hit those huge vocal notes that would take their songs up to an even more impressive standard.

Aside from the lyrical themes of the album and Rice’s flamboyant style, Sports Team’s high energy indie rock drives the album forward. Offering a similar vibe to The Hives, the weird and upbeat guitar hooks from Rob Knaggs gives their kooky style a foot stomping force to make every track memorable and mosh pit ready. ‘Going Fishing’ is musically abstract and vocally harsh, forming the album’s highlight. Rather than a flawless studio production, the band’s chaotic musicianship on the track is the pinnacle example of the atmosphere, timing and grit of the live performance that their reputation has been built around.

Elsewhere, some songs are more of a whimper than a bang. The woe is me ‘Long Hot Summer’ is not the most well crafted or vocally interesting hit. ‘Feels Like Fun’ has a crushing crescendo that is a burst of excellence added on to the end of an elsewhere tiresome track.

Less angry than Idles but not as bizarre as Pulled Apart by Horses, Sports Team leave you with slight political jabs without going for the full knockout punch. Much of their debut album makes it clear that the band are still learning who they are. It leaves you wondering whether they have much to say beyond ironic phrases?

Whether the targets are pricks in the pub, working a suit and tie job or mid-noughties MTV stars, ‘Deep Down Happy’ is sarcasm central. At such an intense period with earth seemingly on the verge of an uprising, this album provides an opportunity to look at day to day life with a smile and even laugh, which feels more important now than ever before.

Louis Kerry

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