People Can’t Stop Chillin EP Review
SPORTS Band Ltd.
Released October 21, 2016
Genre: Dream Pop, Indie Pop, Funk, 80s Dreamy Synth Pop Magic
Sports are band from – of all places where good music could possibly originate – Tulsa, Oklahoma. After a sleeper 2015 debut (the superb Naked All The Time) and a single (“Manicure”), Sports have released an EP of tracks that venture into the lush, dreamy, and seductive – evoking a John Hughes film dipped in acid and subjected to reverberated sax solos in that period of the night where there’s a sliver of sun barely on the horizon. It’s the type of music that one person can easily do alone (perhaps a community college vinyl head toying with acid and guitar pedals in his parents’ basement); yet Sports manages to expound this sound among a whole band. By doing so, they dip into the tiny details lost in the reverb and retro sounds. People Can’t Stop Chillin conjures a special type of magic with its singular brand of 80s music, but force us to hear the tiny elements most overlooked due to a monstrous hook. The result is a refreshing and infectious take on this 80s music revival that has been done time and time again.
It’s fair to say this approach, in all of its nostalgic glory, is a cliché at this point. Yet, there are musicians and bands that have tried, and have succeeded; it’s all in the execution. Naked All The Time, Sports’ debut album, managed to strike that soft spot between summery days and cool nights with verve and dexterity. It’s a summer nights album if we’ve ever heard one, and they progress on this latest EP: none of it sounds summery in the slightest. The night has arrived for these guys, and it’s a magical trip to say the least.
The opener, a spectacular funk romp, treads the same musical and lyrical content of love, anxiety, and paranoia that Unknown Mortal Orchestra so boldly captured on “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”. Where UMO’s track followed a strong groove, Sports do so with synths, saxophones, and vocal pitch changes. At 2:30, the vocals become deeper and a piercing and emphatic sax solo reminiscent of George Michael completely sucks you in. “Manicure” attacks immediately after, musically, which is juxtaposed with the nimble and soft spoken vocals. At times chilling (especially around the chorus), and at times groovy – it’s an intoxicating mix to be reckoned with (especially with its wonderfully surreal music video, enchanting with hands [yes, hands]).
Sports manage to turn these dated tunes into personal moments – diegetic sounds leaking past the music to create a world asking to be inhabited in; take the final (and title) track for instance, a melancholy ballad placed within a bar atmosphere of clinking glasses and mumbled voices. Or “Takin’ a Crusie”, where a sax echoes off into the night spent on a boat; these simple moments help this brief EP feel fully realized, and it’s evident there’s a life behind the 80s veneer. Intersected between these “ambient” pieces are a few ballads (“Drivin’ on by You”), funk romps to endlessly dance too at an after-party with neon lights and baked young adults slouched on a couch, and pitched-shifted romantic odes of fidelity and pleasure. It’s a brief affair that is shamelessly in love with the music it has crafted, and the listeners it hopes to captivate.
People Can’t Stop Chillin’ is a stylish, ethereal, and dreamy record that is all about working past emulation and admiration, and will be popular amongst millennials obsessed with 80s revival music (i am one of these, if i am being frank). However, this is no serious crime against music purists; and I would be lying if I didn’t say that Sports are one of the few bands out there working today taking a genre, that is replete with indulgence and unoriginality, and truly making music wholly of their own without compromise, and without catering to their audience’s needs. They sound like they’re having fun; and if this is what the future of Sports (and 80s revival) sounds like, I see no harm in a few more of these being pumped out every now and then to show everyone how it’s done.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Someone You’d Rather Be Dating, Manicure, Drivin’ on by You, Gotta Know Better (I’m Crazy), Whatever You Want
LEAST FAV TRACK: Takin’ a Cruise