Sports Team delivered one of my favourite albums of 2020 in Deep Down Happy. I brought it up in my December Long Review of the year. Going on to effuse about their eccentric ‘old heads on young shoulders’ attention to detail. Lander, Here’s The Thing, Going Soft, Camel Crew all brilliant talky wordiness over indie jangle and clang. They were one of the break out bands of Lock Down Part 1 for me and it seemed for Planet Indie.
In February this year I played my love of The Wicker Man for points too by posting Willow’s Song by imaginary 70’s Folk band Magnet during B-Movie Week. As if spliced together by a glitch in the matrix (I’d love to use The Fly’s teleportation device analogy but I rinsed it out during B- Movie Weeks The Cramps Post) Wordy 2020’s English Indie Rock and The Wicker Man are intrinsically linked once more. It’s as if Blaze Bailey’s period fronting Iron Maiden never happened (actually, it sort of is though isn’t it?)
“I came out feet first and dancing, pause for a round of applause, I came up grasping for greatness, a coffin in search of a corpse”
Apparently the song is celebrating the relaxing of lock-down measures. Celebrating? That “Do as I say not what I do” refrain reads like a Barnard Castle Eye Test to me (Cheers Punks). The Wicker Man tribute video does as much to homage Christopher Lee’s delightful tweed suit as it does show our tiny isles tiny minds as they set about closing doors on outsiders, ideas and indie bands playing penny for the guy before setting fire to their drummer. They did it beautifully.
“Economists with bedside manners, tax return, pop killer batches, Chipping Norton, doors on latches, Five bed flat packed neo -fascists”
This mob are proving to be proper reliable weirdos. They just happen to be handsome dapper young men with a jangle pop way around a Half Man Half Biscuit view on the world. There’s plenty of Jarvis Cocker and the oft cited Mark E Smith of course. Contemporaries of Yard Act, Fountaines D.C, Do Nothing and kings of this sort of thing Idles. Sports Team are the wolf in sheep’s clothing of that scene though. Or more accurately the Local Lords hiding a pagan ritual cult in plain sight. They scrub up well. They comb their hair. They appear to be playing nice but of all the bands mentioned above, they’re the ones most scathing. Either at the Gammon, the lazy nationalism or the terrible irony of what we’re throwing away to be smaller and less involved. What we’re not just happy to be settling for but embracing as if the most mediocre must be the best.
“Kitchen surface, polished granite, the market’s up in sunny Thanet, incorporating calisthenics, cottagecore and market ethics that Soho house alt-right aesthetic is taking over”
That lyric above achieves two things well worthy of the singles place in the playlists of the year that is 2021. First of all it appears to be the first mention of the isle of Thanet in a rock and roll song since Sir Ian Dury of Blockhead had a rendezvous with Janet back in 1977. It’s astonishing how many of the bands lyrics have the feel of The Estate Agent to them. The dress sense too. Is this the first example of Estate Agent Rock? No, that brings me to their other achievement here. I also think they’ve nailed their scenes sound. They may have just given it a name I’ve not heard before in music. Cottagecore. I know it’s an Instagram aesthetic thing. But the word nails the sound the same way Emo started out being a rather angular post punk screamathon but will now forever be tied to Disney Goths playing pop punk with a dash of Queen in their sound.
Cottagecore. This Country made song. Happy (God’s Own Country) is coming knocking on your garden gate. Penny for the guy?
“I bet they hope those feet in ancient times just kept on walking”