By Giliann Karon
Last we heard of them, Sports Team (RIYL: Squid, Shame, The Orielles, Dry Cleaning) were in the process of reinvigorating British indie rock. With their electric riffs and garish vocals, their album Deep Down Happy debuted at #2 on the UK charts — by appealing to mundane British life with references to football and the M5 highway, they immediately clicked with scrappy, downtrodden adolescents. However, despite their rare success for a relatively unknown band (largely in part due to an active WhatsApp group and Twitter memes), COVID brought everything to a screeching halt.
But with a renaissance on the horizon, what better time than now to corral their loyal group of drunken hedonists? “Happy (God’s Own Country)” is Sports Team’s first release since early 2020, which the band describes as a “summer-of-hope anthem” to celebrate the UK’s easing coronavirus measures.
The band spares no time reminding you who they are with this release. With a spring in their step, vocalist Alex Rice’s jagged voice demands attention from the gate. Shifting baselines anchor the track, while thumping percussion underscores the band’s post-lockdown excitement and restlessness. Their lyrics inject excitement into mundane Middle England, giving a voice to a disgruntled, forgotten population who’s historically borne the brunt of British austerity measures.
Like many of their songs, “Happy” follows a clear path, seamlessly transitioning from verse to chorus and back again. Their sound hasn’t changed, but the track doesn’t feel like a Deep Down Happy B-side, either, and after such an unexpected year, the structural and sonic familiarity feels comforting. Though 2020 turned the world on its head, Sports Team remains just as colorful and raucous as ever.