Lady Gaga probably anticipated a battle for the number one spot in the album charts.
But, would she have expected to be in a nail-biting race with a Cambridge band that reference Slug & Lettuce, Motorways, and the failed marriage between Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore? Probably not.
Yet, the unashamedly unconventional Sports Team have built up an almost cult-like following and frenzy ensued when their long-awaited debut landed on shelves in early June.
It is somewhat bizarre that a band with middle-class roots could become such a voice for the youth in a time of clear division between social classes. However, Sports Team’s self-awareness and injections of self-depreciation make themselves, and Deep Down Happy, accessible to those who do not frequent jazz lounges and exclusively eat branded cereal.
Frontman Alex Rice’s conversational and chaotic vocals tell entire stories in single verses, which is perhaps most evident on the frantic ‘Here It Comes Again’. A stand-out track, its teasing nature builds anticipation as Rice runs riot on the mundanity of British life.
Although the ferocious ‘Lander’ and meandering ‘Stations of the Cross’ lament and mock the supposed bliss and ideals of suburban life, social commentary is also lent to politics, a subject the band are passionately vocal about. ‘Here’s The Thing’ tears through the greatest misconceptions of modern society, whilst taking aim at the demonisation of those who struggle.
Meanwhile, anti-gammon anthem ‘The Races’ swings for racist relatives who spew regressive views at the table behind the shield of the Union Jack. It is tracks like these that remind you what Sports Team are – a force for good. They are for anyone who feels aggrieved or discontent, whether that be because of the current political climate or because they are bored of living in their hometown.
Alongside their self-depreciation and airing of political grievances lies subtle vulnerability, where discontent is conveyed with more emotion than sarcasm. ‘Long Hot Summer’ sees Rob Knaggs take centre stage for a slower-paced palette cleanser on an album designed to shake you up and send your head for a spin.
For fans that have followed the six-piece since the release of their early days, the newly-packaged and polished version of ‘Camel Crew’ may pack less of a punch than the original, but it is a small flaw on an otherwise excellent debut record.
They may have been beaten to the top of the charts by Lady Gaga, but Sports Team are here to stay.
Image Credit: Island Records