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For fans of Cub Sport the anticipation for a debut LP has been palpable for some time, but few will be able to contest that it wasn’t worth the wait. The Brisbane five-piece have released some seriously catchy singles over the past three or so years, most notably the tropical indie stylings of Evie in 2011 and Told You So a year later.
Now back with their first full length record titled This Is Our Vice, it’s immediately clear that the band have brought a new maturity and intensity to their sound, whilst still staying true to aspects like super clean production and infectious melodies that they established in their early work.
Tim Nelson’s vocals are a standout from track one, and they are featured in a variety of ways across several different kinds of tune throughout the album. If there was any doubt about his ability as an incredibly diverse vocal artist, this record puts that all to bed. His effortlessly breezy stylings alongside the harmonies of Sam Netterfield on I Can’t Save You, I’m On Fire and I Don’t Love My Baby set them up to be typically up-beat and catchy Cub Sport tunes.
Mess Me Up sits in the middle of the album as a perfect centrepiece, as well a poignant testament to the development of the band’s sound. It’s a softer tune featuring some deeply intense and melancholic vibes curated by Nelson’s almost incredibly melodic falcetto. Mess Me Up also manages to generate a different kind of intensity by employing a much lighter atmosphere through a more sparing use of synth and other instruments, instead featuring vocals and guitar as the main melodic vehicles.
Two songs later we get Only Friend (see video below), an equally intense if more brooding track, highlighted again by Tim Nelson’s vocals but on this occasion with him showing off his lower range.
By including several tracks where Cub Sport’s natural synth-pop vibe is briefly put on hold to great effect, the record has a much healthier flow and a newfound diversity. These tracks also allow other tunes like I’m On Fire, I Feel Bad Now and I Don’t Love My Baby to really standout as beacons of the intensely hook-filled, yet classy and super tight synth-pop style that we had previously come to expect from these guys.
There was definitely a danger heading into its release that This Is Our Vice would be all-too-familiar, and that Cub Sport would fall into the trap of sticking too close to the simple aspects of their style that made their previous singles so popular. Instead, by following the lead of Tim Nelson’s outstanding and impossible-to-overstate vocals, they’ve created a record that while admittedly doesn’t shatter expectations, certainly hits its mark as a diverse indie-pop record with nods back to synth pop landscape of decades gone.