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Sports Team scores with terrific second album, 'Gulp!'

"Gulp!," the second LP from London-based Sports Team, builds on the success of their first album.
Sports Team -- Gulp alvbum cover art

SPORTS TEAM
GULP!
Island Records (CD, LP)
★★★★

By John Curley

Sports Team, who are based in London and formed while most of the band’s members were studying at Cambridge University, have dodged the sophomore jinx by releasing a new album, Gulp!, that is every bit the equal of their Mercury Prize-nominated debut, 2020’s Deep Down Happy. Gulp! is an album that is quite enjoyable and that contains several songs that have made a big splash on U.K. rock music radio. The album’s latest single, “The Drop,” is currently getting a good deal of airplay on British rock stations.

The band, which is comprised of Alex Rice (lead vocals), Rob Knaggs (rhythm guitar and vocals), Henry Young (lead guitar), Oli Dewdney (bass), Al Greenwood (drums) and Ben Mack (keyboard and percussion), have crafted a thought-provoking album that contains upbeat music (for the most part) that stands in stark contrast to darker lyrics that comment on various social ills.

“The Game,” which kicks off the album, is one of its standout tracks. It’s a catchy song that rocks and is about searching for meaning in life. “The Drop,” simply put, is one of the outstanding singles of 2022. It’s a total ear worm that holds up to repeated listens and is an upbeat-sounding tune with rather bleak lyrics, such as “Katie died waiting for the right time to retire.” Another radio-friendly track is “R Entertainment,” which concerns how the constant barrage of images and text from social media makes it very difficult to fully engage with anything.

Sports Team are pictured here in April of this year. (Photo by Lauren Maccabee)

Sports Team are pictured here in April of this year. (Photo by Lauren Maccabee)

Among the other tracks on the album are: “Dig,” a rocking song about malaise, being in a bad situation but continuing to repeat the same mistakes; “Cool It Kid,” which deals with stress getting the best of you when you’re living with others; the alt-country-sounding “Unstuck” that concerns relationships falling apart; the rocker Kool Aid,” which examines conspiracy theories; “Getting Better,” an upbeat-sounding song that is actually about death; the rocking “Fingers,” which examines people feeling powerless and frustrated in a situation that was not of their making; and the album closer “Light Industry,” a track that is quite different from the rest of the album’s songs in that it begins as an acoustic-based tune but builds in power to conclude as more of a rocker.

The songs on Gulp! go from strength to strength and have resulted in a highly listenable piece of work. It’s one of the must-have albums of the year.

The music video for “The Game” can be seen below:

The lyric video for “Dig” can be seen below:

The music video for “The Drop” can be seen below:

The music video for “Cool It Kid” can be seen below:

The visualizer of “R Entertainment” can be seen below: