There should be an industrywide rule that only acts of quality are allowed to name their project something wholly impossible to Google. Luckily for Sports — a Philadelphia-via-Gambier, Ohio twee-punk four-piece — it makes the cut.
It's been two years since we last heard new music from this young band — the last LP, 2015's All of Something, shot straight for the heart with its doe-eyed college rock riffs and shimmering lyrical disappointments. At the time of All of Something's creation, they were preparing for graduation both from their Midwest hub of Kenyon College and their band — the record was originally slated to serve as a swan song. Clearly, and luckily, that's no longer the case.
Sports have announced a new split 7" with San Francisco's (self-described) sob-rockers Plush. "Making It Right" kicks off that split's first side, a high-energy, evolved track; whatever life changes occurred in those two years benefited them, including the introduction of a synth. But mostly it's vocalist Carmen Perry, whose idiosyncratic performance style has found real confidence in the interim. She pushes herself, and high risk has brought high reward.
"Making It Right" battles the same kind of youthful melancholy as Sports' previous work, with the simplicity of pre-breakup dialogue, offering lines like "Do you think this is working? / I don't know but my heart is in your hands" and "I wish you were here / My conscience is anything but clear / But I'm making it right," cutting perhaps deeper than they should. Perry finds a solution a few seconds later with "Stay up with me / Please let's not fight." But it's not a very definitive one.
Sports' indie-pop-punk style evokes comparisons to fellow Philly acts Swearin' and Waxahatchee — helmed by twin sisters Allison Crutchfield and Katie Crutchfield respectively — for their sometimes-biting but always-sweet sincerity, a specific storytelling gift that can make anxious anecdotes feel revelatory. But Sports is crafting a place all its own, and on "Making It Right," that place is becoming refined. If only the same could be said about the heartbreak that inspired it.
The Sports/Plush split 7" is available via Father/Daughter Records on Oct. 20.