San Francisco band Sporting Life started out as a pop-folk outfit called The Cons before switching to their current, British pop-inspired iteration in 2010. They're self-described as a "dream rock, shoegaze, British pop" band, and they take influence from, unsurprisingly, a number of UK bands, like The Kinks, The Smiths, and Stereolab.
Their second album, Rivalry
, premieres exclusively today on
All Shook Down and is the band's newest and strongest piece of work, to date. You don't have to be a pop fan to enjoy this album, which is rich with synthesizer, bass, and reverbed vocals.
The album starts off with the slow burning jam, "Valpairaso," which begins with an ominous, droning, synth-driven melody, reminiscent of "Risky Business" by Tangerine Dream. A little over two minutes into the song, the piano line blossoms into chords from the entire band and, as Keith Brasel, one of the band's singer/songwriters says, "kind of explodes into a straight-up rock song."
Like the British bands that they emulate, Sporting Life writes songs about quotidian, relatable emotions and experiences, like anxiety, alienation, family, love, and questioning one's existence. "I think every song has an existential element to it," says Brasel. "There's a little bit of powerlessness that I think we all feel and probably a lot of people can relate to."
Despite this angst and ennui, the album is far from a downer or mood-killer. It's actually surprisingly uptempo and energizing and certainly one of the most refreshing new sounds to come out of the San Francisco pop-rock scene in a while.
below and check out the band's record release party later this week where Fake Your Own Death and Ownership will also be playing. Plus, if you attend the party, you'll get a free download card for the album.
Sporting Life's record release party is at The Knockout on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 9:30 p.m.