As soon as you press play on the debut album from Cambridge six-piece Sports Team, it is clear that they’re setting out to bring their high-octane guitar music straight from summer festivals to your living room.
Deep Down Happy starts at 100% and stays there, with roaring guitars, pulsating rhythms and Alex Rice’s wittily half-shouted vocals driving the album through from the offset. Nods to indie and punk greats are present throughout, with a carefree punk vocal style emulating titans such as The Clash and fizzling guitars reminiscing 90s Britpop bands and their predecessors.
The subject matter of Deep Down Happy reflects the band members’ small-town experience, with lyrics unashamedly focused on the day-to-day. In the second track ‘Here It Comes Again’, Rice declares he’s been “trying very hard” and “sleeping through the night” – not your usual rocker brag.
Deep Down Happy doesn’t deal with looming existential matters, but it doesn’t try to. There’s something oddly comforting in hearing Rice singing about a night in Wetherspoons or a day spent fishing.
This album does sometimes go beyond this, with songs such as lead single ‘Here’s the Thing’ criticising the comforts and “lies, lies, lies” of city-working and capitalism itself. Rice’s shouted vocals channel his frustration and cynical attitude as he tears down clichés, from avant-garde Goldsmiths students who “dye their fringes” to city workers in their suits and ties. Contrasted with Sports Team’s songs focusing on life outside the city, Deep Down Happy shouts at us to cast off our big dreams and appreciate the small things.
Overall, Deep Down Happy does not feel like a record made to be sonically distinctive or lyrically controversial. If you’re looking for a band to soundtrack the next revolution, this record may not be for you. It is however a refreshing and updated throwback to the topics of the Britpop generation – the comforts and complaints of life in middle England.
Deep Down Happy is an enjoyable and often relatable record, packed full of tunes ready to be screamed back at live shows and festivals, whenever they may be.