Sports, a quartet – Carmen Perry, guitar and vocals; Benji Dossetter, drums; James Karlin, bass; Catherine Dwyer, guitar – that originally started in 2012 at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and now a quintet (Jack Washburn, guitar and vocals), feels like a highlight reel with its brisk and breezy basement rock.
Only one song on the band’s sophomore album All of Something is longer than three minutes, and, unsurprisingly, it’s the concluding track (“The Washing Machine”) because at that point you want the album to last just a little bit longer before hitting the restart button. Since this really is it for the band (as every member has a separate side project), it felt like this longtime group of friends wanted the moment to last (especially since they knew everyone would be moving on to something else and somewhere else).
Much of the album centers on relationships and not just romantic ones (although chief songwriter Perry and Washburn are dating, which naturally became source material for part of the album). Perry, however, wrote a lot of the songs years ago, which sets the album’s tone in a weird personal 20-something stasis (like a rerun of the first few seasons of Friends).
Apparently no one really knows what “Saturday” is about, except that it’s probably just a fun reminder of that quick way to determine whether or not you are actually in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. “Reality TV” is a satirical dramatization of trying to hook up, and I think “Getting On in Spite of You” is somewhat self-explanatory.
This is not complicated stuff, but it is folded quite pleasantly in an emotionally true and effective envelope. While the band labels itself as “punk powerpop” (I think the word placement is intentional), there are moments where Perry transforms into something a little bit more. The pain she emotes on “Harder” borders on some of the better alt-country out there (think Kathleen Edwards), and she does a very good Hope Sandoval impression (Mazzy Star) on the reflective “Clean Socks.”
The only “rebuttal,” if you will, of the album is Washburn’s main solo track (“Town”), but even it is as fleeting as a few of the other tracks. I’ve been trying to grasp the meaning of the album’s entirety; however, it always seems to point to the notion that life events can be seen as time capsules: You want to save the details but you kind of forget them as time goes on. What you actually remember are the links between events which primarily are the relationships you have with meaningful people.
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