The past 18 months have provided plenty of time to think and take stock. Stifled by a lack of touring or pretty much anything else that makes being in a band special, a common theme persists through many releases in a post-Covid world. Reflection and analysing the nether reaches of one’s mind.
It’s something that Philadelphia-based indie four-piece Remember Sports explore on their fourth studio album ‘Like a Stone’. Typically known for their garage, “basement” rock sound, this latest release is sonically beefed up, boasting a spread of fast punk-esque tracks, country odes and grooving indie beats.
However, it is the lyrical direction in which guitarist and lead vocalist Carmen Perry takes which hits so hard within this new world in which we live. In ‘Like a Stone’, Perry is holding up a mirror to herself, pouring over every little detail. She explains that she uses the harder, more visceral tracks as a release for anger and guilt while the slower tracks are her way of making amends with her nature.
This reflective songwriting makes for a fascinating record, swaying between anxious ballads (‘Materialistic’) and then exploding into break-neck speed numbers (‘Easy’). Musically, Remember Sports take notes from contemporaries such as The Beths and Cayetana, title track ‘Like a Stone’ bears irresistible and memorable licks akin to these acts.
They fall back into familiar territory on tracks like ‘Falling Awake’, and the stomping ‘Flossie Dickie’, which are wholly reminiscent of their earlier work. Remember Sports have been carefully crafting their sound and, by album number four, have worked in bigger production while still retaining that garage band ethos.
However, ‘Like a Stone’ shows a band not afraid to dabble in styles. The closing double header of ‘Out Loud’ and ‘Odds Are’ are two wonderfully contrasting tracks. The former is, in the words of guitarist Jack Washburn, where “Carmen got to go full Ariana Grande”. It’s a six-minute long epic that wouldn’t look out of place nestled alongside some of the huge artists that populate the top 40 charts. Perry exercises her full vocal range all the while delivering devastatingly poignant lyrics about not giving up on yourself.
The grandiose nature of ‘Out Loud’ is expertly juxtaposed by the last word on the record – ‘Odds Are’. This takes the form of a tender country song that has all the air of a downtrodden dive bar in the dusty expanses of the American south, in which Perry talks about “not letting you win again”, and expressing a desire to move on with life. It’s straight out of Nashville and an oddly uplifting end to a curious record.
The past 18 months have been a challenge for a lot of bands and, in the case of Remember Sports, it feels like it’s been a cathartic experience to pour all those feelings out onto a record. ‘Like a Stone’ demonstrates the breadth of talent the four-piece possesses, switching instruments and crafting some beautifully, delicate tracks – and, naturally, the kind of songs that will punch you directly in the gut.