Bad Sports are coming into their own. They’ve always been a solid Denton, TX hyphen-rock band but on their new EP, Dirtnap’s Living With Secrets, the nuances are starting to pull together a little more and the “influenced by” is harder to decipher.
The first third or so of the record takes the commodified Denton garage-punk sound in a new direction, less Ramones and more ’77-style with hard syllables and punchy riffs in “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up” and the anthemic “Living with Secrets.” “Done to Death” carries a snide and harder edge as it recites that “It’s all been done to death.”
It doesn’t stick to that punky formula though. Later, “Pacify My Love” is a sluggish 33rpm-paced track that lets a walking bass carry it through a melancholic and jaded song about the downer side of relationships. It’s contrasted in the following cut, “Where Are You?,” a poppy surf-tinged track before “Why Should I Care?” rolls out the final wave on a crest of a beautiful pop-rock riff countered by some seriously cynical lyrics. While their first releases felt a bit happier, this album carries a distinct pissed off tone, both in vocal tone and through the lyrics and song titles.
“We don’t deserve to be alive/ Why should I care?”
It may not carry the mojo expected of peppy 4/4 rock as the band comes into their own, but what do you expect with a name like Bad Sports. The record takes pop-garage-punk and emphasizes punchy riffs and concise songwriting with just enough variety to keep it predictable enough to stick in your end without overplaying their hand.
While the record has some nice variety (in just 19 minutes), it does suffer from a bit of repetition. Not in song structure but the lyrics are sometimes to repetitive, namely using the song title over and over in the chorus. With only 7 songs it’s a long EP or a short LP, but that never works against it as it still has a “full” feel and progression through the album even though legend has it that it was originally to be three separate 7”s instead of a purdy 12” vinyl.
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