Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
When Sports: The Band released their first EP in 2009, their zany mix of sunshiny styles made quite a splash on the interwebs (hell, when was the last time your band had an Eye Weekly blog named after them?). But two years later, the group’s undergone a metamorphosis—keyboardist (and Torontoist alumnus) Robin Hatch has been replaced with ex-Diableros guitarist Pete Carmichael, they’ve dropped the semicolon and qualifier from their moniker, and their warm group-hug vibe has been reined in for the grittier sonics of Sports: the debut album (out now via their Bandcamp site).
The nine tunes on the band’s self-titled LP are still rife with well-cultivated pop hooks, but this time they’ve been scuzzed-up and fed through a Big Muff: the pedal. Though the harmony-laden slacker melodies of “Time” or “Zeus’ Thundersword” are catchier than pink eye, fuzz guitar and feedback squeals now fill in the spaces where twinkling glockenspiels or 8-bit blips would’ve previously been. Shayne Cox’s off-kilter beats and Nathan Rekker’s wispy, winsome vocal lines may draw some Vampire Weekend comparisons, but tracks like album closer “Tra La La” (streaming above) counterbalance the sweet sounds with jagged, distorted discordance.
The playfulness is still here (check out the maelstrom of ’60s flower-power keyboard licks, garbled voices, and oddball noises during the breakdown of “This Tree”), but overall Sports sees the band focus and solidify their sound. Most importantly, they’ve dialed down the politeness to take an aesthetic step towards the clangorous indie rock of the mid-’80s and early ’90s, when the scene was shambling, self-destructive, and beautiful. A solid effort: the truth.