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Sophomore albums are the most difficult to make. With first records, you're given leeway. As a band, you're still wet behind the ears. You're still learning, still developing your sound, realizing what it takes living through true studio sessions. And after that first tour behind the release, the world is sunny and bright and you know how everything works. Then, it's time for that second album. You realize people are expecting something better; obviously you've grown, but was it enough? If you've grown too much, fans will revolt at losing the nostalgia that reminds them of the first album. If it's too much of the same, why even bother putting out another record? You have to find that sweet spot.

Ohio natives, SPORTS, have found that sweet spot. On October 30th, they released their second album, All of Something. The quartet gained back original guitarist, Catherine Dwyer. This fuller sound allowed the band to layer and give more depth to songs that others would have let go flat. There is a revitalizing energy throughout the album. It is mature without being pretentious and angsty without being whiney.

The album is straight guitar-driven indie pop. The jangling rhythm guitar and driving rock drums pair well with the stings from the guitar solos. There is just enough garage and basement grit to remind you they have paid their dues as a band. The fractured singing of Carmen Perry is alienating yet, inviting. There's a tenderness you want to comfort and a bite that lets you know she can handle herself, one way or another. And with Kyle Gilbride (Waxahatchee, Girlpool, Swearin') having produced the album, the DIY aesthetic coated every corner of the record.

Album opener, 'Stunted' is a mid-tempo, 6/8 '90s throwback that focuses on layering and dynamic. Ms. Perry sings, "So this is where everything leads?" This sets the tone for the rest of the album- uncertainty about relationships, growing up, life as a suburbanite. 'Saturday' talks about being scared to make plans and "babysitting stress dreams". Yet, just listening to the music, you feel like you're at a house show and dancing in someone's garage, drinking cheap beer and smoking even cheaper cigarettes. The melodies reel you in before you realize you should be contemplating life, not drowning it out.

Ms. Perry's slight twang and swagger on 'Reality TV' is what ups the ante for this track. "And I know that I'm no fun/ when I get scared of everyone." The pumped-up beat and power chords add to the anxiety this song represents.

This album is brimming with sugary garage rock anthems. And while the consistent, up-tempo rhythms are a conscious choice, it would have been nice for a little more variance. 'Clean Socks' stands out as a top-notch song on the record not just because of the poetry, but because it takes a step back sonically. Dynamics are a key to music making that can be easy to overlook. But like anything in art, it must serve a purpose. If they messed with dynamics hoping it would make things more interesting, it would be worse than having no dynamics at all. And while this album does have a flow, it would have been nice to hear them push the other end of the spectrum a little more. It's obvious they have the talent for it.

All of Something will be the album to propel SPORTS up the music world. They balance catchy pop melodies with the sneer of a 20 something who still cherishes their old Black Flag and Talking Heads t-shirts. You catch something new each time you listen to this album. SPORTS knew what they were doing. The songs are short bursts of energy - over too quickly but pack a hell of a punch.

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