In their so-far brief career, indie band Sports Team have already come in for a fair amount of flak. Their roots as six people who met at Cambridge, whose band immediately secured a major-label deal (can they be classed as 'indie', then?), and their reputation for being a bunch of loud-mouths with opinions, has ensured that they have already garnered a decent amount of media coverage - both good and bad.
Well, no publicity is bad publicity, as the saying goes, and it's always good to have some sort of pre-established platform going into your first album. That brings us to this, then; Deep Down Happy is the first full-length release from the sextet and here's a fair warning: it's full of these aforementioned opinions.
It's actually a rather funny album. The lyrics are as straightforward as they come; the band are clearly not ones for nuance or metaphors, instead preferring to say what they think in as few words as possible and letting others decide whether they like it or not. That said, there is also rather a lot of parody on here, whether it be their mock Conservative manifesto on 'Here's The Thing' or their aspirations on to be a fox-hunting lawyer on 'Lander'. Parody isn't nuanced, but it sure is entertaining.
Here's the rub, though - this, perhaps not surprisingly for a band whose reputation so far has been built on semi-controversial interviews, is a record all about the lyrics. Whether it be the funny parody songs or more straightforward criticisms of the current political climate, the lyrics are sublime. Unfortunately, the music behind them just doesn't quite reach the same heights. It's cut from the same generic indie formula that we've been hearing for years now; musically, there's very little new on offer here that we haven't heard previously. The songs come and go with a distinct lack of identity or creativity, and the short 36-minute length ended up being a bit of a blessing. There's nothing wrong with the record, the music is fine - it's just not new or unique enough to properly stand out.
Like most albums, there are highlights dotted throughout. 'Camel Crew' and 'Here's The Thing' both buck the trend of samey, formulaic songs, bringing a genuine sense of fun to the album that goes beyond the lyrics. The two tracks are a glimpse of what this band is capable of when they slightly mess with the formula and put their own spices on the recipe.
There's a lot of potential here. The lyrics are brilliant and there are flashes of a musical identity as well - but not enough. This is attempt #1 at a full-length record and there are definitely a few things to iron out, a few issues to address, mostly concerning the lack of a musical USP. If their sophomore record can raise the instrumental quality to the same level as the lyrics, Sports Team will cement themselves as serious players. They're knocking on the door, but it won't open automatically. They're certainly capable of breaking it down - let's hope they do.
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