SPORTS play the Silver Dollar Thursday (June 16), 2 am, as part of NXNE. See listing Rating: NNN

Sports: The Band’s scattershot first EP revealed them to be talented songwriters who still needed to solidify their sound. They’ve gone through a few changes since, replacing keyboardist Robin Hatch with former Diableros guitarist Pete Carmichael and dialing back their sunnier tendencies in favour of a harder-edged rock sound that’s closer to the members’ other projects: the Meligrove Band, By Divine Right and the Carnations.

The nine songs on their self-titled LP are still the work of a band with a talent for writing strong pop hooks, now run through a heavier filter. Where a song like Tra La La might once have sounded like its name suggests, here its melody shares space with distorted grunge riffing. Opener Time even adds in shoegazey guitar squeal, though Slacking Scholar and Zeus’ Thundersword are as hummable as ever.

Top track: Slacking Scholar

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