I remember a few years back, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go see a band called Modern Baseball. It was at a small venue and she had one extra ticket. Me, not knowing who they were, said no. I might have actually been busy but at the time I wasn’t interested in seeing a band I had never heard of. I really had no reason not to go but I convinced myself that I probably had other priorities going on that Thursday night anyway. Fast forward a few years and after listening to this record, I can’t stop thinking about that memory. I’m still trying to get over the fact that I had a chance to see this band live and chose not to go. Their music is stunning in the simplest way, yet it creates a bigger image you can’t look away from. Classified as a folk rock/pop punk group, this band stands out among the genre and their debut could not have been any better executed.
Upon listening to Sports, I have to admit that there weren’t many individual standout moments. There are no vocal high notes or killer guitar solos that we’re so accustomed to with pop punk. There are no heavy instrumentation moments, rather it’s almost entirely acoustic based. But while this record lacks in big studio production, it makes up for it in the genuine nature of it all. From the lyrics to the vocals to the instrumentation and production, this record feels like real life in a way that other records just can’t convey.
The storytelling lyrics portray scenarios we’ve all experienced and the way they’re worded is so comical in some cases that even if it’s about a dull subject, it’s never going to sound like it’s intentionally put in a negative context. The opening track, “Re-Do”, introduces that concept to us immediately, questioning life choices and wanting to start over with lines like “Try to, try to forget that your bones will dismantle/ And the dreams you had, they’ll collide with time/ Your unrequited love for life will surely-/ Halt that, I’m thinking way too much at night”. But the peppy, fast paced drums along with the major key composition makes me feel happy instead of hopeless. Also clocking in at only a little more than two minutes long, the song is over before you know it and we’re on to the next one. Other especially notable songs are “@chl03k” and “I Think You Were In My Profile Picture Once”, both describing situations where you have to let go of people, something that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. “Cooke” is one that’s more lyrically dense with some of the best instrumentation on the entire record, and it happens to be one of my favorites too. “See Ya, Sucker!” is a perfect up beat pop punk anthem about being stuck in the town you hate with a clever play on words with the closing lines “And I reckon you grew up in a town that said reckon all the time/ What gives you the right to wreck everything?”. To close out the record we have a song about the struggles of college, “Coals”, that, especially for me, describes my college experience in way that I never could have. The fact that nothing on here is sugar coated makes this record feel genuine and relatable, and that is something I particularly look for in music.
Amid all of the straightforward delivery of these twelve tracks, this record is so full of life and there’s always something new to listen for. Pop punk is normally synonymous with “angsty” or “emo” but this record takes that idea and puts it into a more jubilant mindset. It’s refreshing not to feel so angry about life and to not feel like you’re the only one experiencing certain situations. I’m especially alone when I sit down and listen to a record but listening to this one in particular made me feel less lonely, not only mentally but physically as well. Even though I enjoy that time by myself, when I put this on I feel like I’m in a room surrounded by lots of other people and I’m not even opposed to that. The authentic nature of this record can make the most lifeless moments feel less forlorn, which is one of the best things music does for us.