Playing energetic, guitar-based indie rock with a sharp but playful edge, Sports Team are a band from the North London community of Harlesden whose taut sound is matched to witty lyrics that celebrate flip phones, Ashton Kutcher, and tacky British seaside resorts. After earning a reputation for over-the-top live shows during their early days at Cambridge University, Sports Team issued a fistful of singles and EPs in 2018 and 2019 that captured their lean power and sense of fun, with the singalong chorus of "Kutcher," the slow burn of "Stanton," and the sleek but muscular "M5" capturing them at their best.
Sports Team was founded by six friends who were attending Cambridge University: lead singer Alex Rice, guitarists Robb Knaggs and Henry Young, bassist Oli Dewdney, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Ben Mac, and drummer Al Greenwood. Frustrated by the lackluster music scene at the college largely dominated by cover bands, the group, who cite Pulp, Pavement, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and the Family Cat as influences, started playing shows at campus venues. Along with their music, the band made their performances stand out by including comedy bits, games, dancing, and once tricking a local political candidate into introducing them at a show. They rose among their peers to be invited to appear at Cambridge's annual May Ball, and then they made their way into London clubs on a regular basis.
By 2018, they'd attracted the attention of the independent label Nice Swan Records, who released their debut EP, a five-song disc titled Winter Nets, in early 2018. The initial pressing soon sold out and rapidly went into a second pressing. After successfully launching their first headlining tour and selling out the prestigious London club Scala (with a capacity of over 1,000), November 2018 saw a flurry of activity, with the release of three singles — "Liberal Friends" b/w "Stanton" (self-released by the group), "Margate" b/w "Kutcher" (issued in tandem by Nice Swan and Holm Front Records), and "Get Along" b/w "Casper" (brought out by Holm Front). As the U.K. music press adopted the band and their popularity spread, more short-form releases followed: a five-song EP, Keep Walking, arrived in March 2019, the single "Here It Comes Again" b/w "Christmas, Kent" followed in August 2019, and a vinyl 7" featuring live and studio versions of "Fishing" became available in November 2019. Meanwhile, Sports Team had completed two short tours of the United States, and in October 2019, Rough Trade issued a five-song EP, Making Hay, as their first official American release. ~ Mark Deming