Incorporating their influences of pop rock groups from the sixties to the present, Seattle’s powerpop darlings Young Sportsmen have universally culled together the characteristics of their heroes from The Who to XTC to Cheap Trick on their second full-length release, If You Want It. Fans of the group will be pleased with this sparkly record, which is a well-produced assembly of catchy tunes.
The mix emphasizes the band’s strong rhythm section. Punchy bass lines and pounding drums are right up front leading the songs with gusto. Opener “Girl Pants” combines the modern sound of bands like The Killers with elements of 1990s rock acts such as the Old 97s. The guitars pull everything together as they crunch and grind over the aforementioned rhythm instruments. Singer Wesley Nelson sounds positively joyful as he belts out the last lines “You’d write it off, but it’s a good day/You’d write it off, but the day’s not over,” characterizing the up and down musical and lyrical roller coaster ride of this album.
“Tomorrow Disappears” is a moodier track that features electric piano and a chorus of backing vocals. The simplicity of the music acts as a canvas for the vocals to assume the bulk of attention. “Hey Gasoline” opens up with some Rolling Stones-esque guitar and sounds reminiscent of some of The Who’s early material. A solid classic rock sound is prevalent throughout much of the recording, but with contemporary twists; laconic harmonies blend Elliott Smith and the Beach Boys on “Mr. Lonesome,” and Elvis Costello and the Foo Fighters are channeled in “Marion’s Nova,” showcasing the band’s ability to meld multiple genres and sounds to create their own product.
The Young Sportsmen sound very well practiced on their sophomore effort. The quality production of this relentlessly enjoyable album and the upbeat nature of the songs should be a hell of a lot of fun for their fans live, and will be sure to get the crowds excited at their upcoming Seattle show, which is on August 28th at City Hall.