Sports Team are a great six-piece English rock band who formed when they were students at Cambridge. The crisp, jagged tunes on their debut LP, Deep Down Happy, recall Franz Ferdinand or the early Arctic Monkeys; their weird-angled guitars can evoke Pavement or Silkworm; their clever critiques of British life recall Pulp and the Kinks; and singer Alex Rice’s ranting style has shades of Art Brut’s Eddie Argos and Mark E. Smith of the Fall. It’s all conjured with a buoyant sense of good-natured humor, so they sound like they’re having fun even when they’re pissed off.
The album bounces by with the logic of a free-for-all pub debate. In “The Races,” they subtly take the piss out of a right-wing yuppie who’ll “never buy you a drink/But he’ll let you know he can,” while “Kutcher” delivers the blazing punk-rock diss “You fuck with my system again/I’ll take your favorite pen.”
The most charming moment is “Fishing,” which they released as a single last year. Over a churning power-pop charge, Rice shouts about upwardly mobile Londoners blandly availing themselves of their stale entitlement: “We go out with our friends/And we sit by the Thames/Going fishing!/I don’t need no conversation please.” It’s the best angling reference in a punk song since Paul Westerberg sang about “quitting school and goin’ to work and never goin’ fishing” on the Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular.”
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