I wasn’t expecting All of Something, the new album from Ohio’s SPORTS, to floor me the way it has. It’s pretty obvious that I love 90s guitar rock, whether it be college-era esotericism, gangly instrumental playfulness, slacker ne’er-do-wells, or dirge-like spikes of gravel-spewed aggression. But I am finding that the past month I have been falling into a lighter-limbed sonic freefall, with the likes of The Spook School, Diet Cig, Summer Flake and now Sports being my go to bands to listen to as the days get ever shorter here in London.
Despite the plain name with the connotations of machismo and parochial rabid savagery, Sports is much more earnest and heartfelt, but without the mawkish histrionics. The album is still very much a microcosm of love and other catastrophes on the cusp of leaving adolescence truly behind, but the songs have sonic bark and verbal bite, both playful and damaged, and is a surprise tour-de-force of indie guitar pop abandon. You have the boppy, giddy C86 of 'Saturday' and 'GDP', the maudlin bedroom strum of 'Clean Socks', the urgent earnestness of 'The Washing Machine.' 'Getting On In Spite Of You' is anthemic in the most honest and carefree of ways, and 'Reality TV' Red Bull-and-hormones punk, somehow both bare-bones and beefy in delivery, with hearts brazenly pinned to the sleeve. It's all about cruising in cars, hopping in beds, falling in and out of love wearing the carapace of nonchalance while the fires burn brightly beneath.
But the true gem is 'Stunted', which kicks off their second (and rumoured final) album All Of Something, and it is absolutely killer. The quiet opening, the warm crackle and heft of the guitars as they open up, the drums becoming a clear driving force as the final rousing crescendo hits, and the vocals all join together with Carmen Perry as they finally echo out "We both got what we wanted." It's Juliana Hatfield meets Belly meets The Muffs, and it's both 90s nostalgia and all round great universal songwriting. Perry's voice has that Hatfield/Kristin Hersh twang that could either be 90s American guitar pop twee or country and western whimsy, but is commanding all the time. I am a massive fan of this song in particular, this album in general, and Sports as a whole. If they are drifting apart, let's hope that Perry and co find other ways to give their all to something that we can all enjoy. All of Something is out now through Father/Daughter Records - get it now!