Artistic evolution takes many forms, and for Philadelphia-based pop-punk quartet Remember Sports, that growth is represented in their latest LP Like a Stone. Released April 23 via Father/Daughter Records, the album signifies the next stage in Remember Sports’ development from friends with shared interests to becoming mainstays in the basement-rock scene.
“I think this album represents us finding our groove as not just a band who plays for fun but as one who takes things seriously,” Carmen Perry, the band’s lead vocalist, tells Audiofemme. “Not that we didn’t before! It’s just that we’ve been doing this for a while now and we’ve become more comfortable with the process.” The album was recorded at The Honey Jar in Brooklyn, with help from Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader (of Minneapolis indie pop trio Nadine). They’ll celebrate with a release show via Bandcamp Live on May 22.
Initially called Sports, the band has seen numerous variations of members, and added Remember to their name in 2017. But the constant within the band has been the friendship it grew out of. “So much of our music is about memories and being nostalgic and sentimental,” says Perry, who formed the band while at Kenyon College in Ohio with Catherine Dwyer – who’s still in the band – and Benji Dossetter and James Karlin. “We were friends since the first day in freshman year; we liked the same kinds of music and really liked playing music together so it felt pretty natural to play in a band. We’ve gone through a lot iterations in the band since then, but its been me and Catherine since the beginning.” Currently, Remember Sports is comprised of singer-songwriter and guitarist Perry, bassist Dwyer, guitarist Jack Washburn, and drummer Connor Perry.
Like a Stone starts off with the punchy, pop-rock bop “Pinky Ring.” Utilizing their staple musical diet of rollicking drums and raw guitar chords, a quick, two-beat intro sets off the melody, fully immersing the listener into Remember Sports’ world. Tugging on themes of self-doubt and the inevitable self-imposed pressure that we tend to exert on ourselves, the melody captures that frantic emotional state. “It speaks to the themes of the album and is a good mix of the pop punk music we started out playing and what else we can do as a band,” says Perry. “Usually when we’re writing a new album I go through some dry periods where I’m not writing much and I think ‘I’m never going to write a song in my life!’ I think I then wrote ‘Pinky Ring’ in an afternoon. I don’t really write in minor keys a lot so this was outside my writing style but I like that it opens the album on this confusing note.”
Following the fast-paced chaos of “Pinky Ring,” “Coffee Machine” plays as an interlude in both a literal and metaphorical sense; it demonstrates the band’s experimentation with sound after “Pinky Ring” revisits their signature style, while the lyrics “Stay here ’til it don’t hurt anymore,” could read as a plea directly pointed at listeners.
The laid-back “Sentimentally” follows with electric guitar evoking a feeling of a nostalgic summer haze as Perry’s vocals paint a bittersweet picture detailing the trepidation that comes with change as we grow older. With “Easy,” Perry pulls on a thread of destruction and the breakdown of a toxic relationship, combining it with strong guitar riffs and a rapid drum beat. “Eggs” and “Materialistic” see Remember Sports break new ground as they change gears and come down, letting the energy and angst of the previous track settle before the title track picks up the pace again. Perry’s vocals command attention in a quietly confident manner throughout the album, while the band’s ’90s grunge influences and atmospheric guitar solos shine through as well.
Standout track “Out Loud” is a somber, yet inspirational listen that diverges from the album with pop elements. “It’s sort of a pop song that I always really wanted to write. When I was working on a popsicle truck one summer in Philly, the melody popped into my head and I had a lot of free time so I just sort of came up with the lyrics and was singing it to myself before I could get home,” Perry remembers. “I was watching Euphoria that summer and I felt really inspired by the camera work, the glitter and the make up of that show that just reminded me of being young and really feeling things very deeply.” The intensity of emotions that come with being a teenager is depicted in lyrics like, “Won’t stop/Never give up/Trying to get everything out/Of your head, into your mouth/We can make this last if you say it out loud,” Perry letting loose and letting her vocal soar at the titular words, which are then repeated back by each band member in turn during a mellow outro.
“Odds Are” ties up Like a Stone in a similar way to the final scenes of a coming-of-age film. Discussing themes of change and moving on, the track begins with the crystal clear notes of an acoustic guitar as Perry’s twangy lyrics recount a complicated relationship in cheeky lines like “I spaced out and walked past my street/I got lost in thinking something/Though the thoughts were cheap.” As more instruments and vocals gradually materialize, joining forces for the final verse, the album ends with the cautiously hopeful lines “Well I don’t know why but I think we all deserve another try/Yeah, I don’t know why but I think my odds are good this time.”
Perry might as well be talking about Remember Sports’ trajectory. Previous work, such as 2018 LP Slow Buzz, zeroed in on the breakdown of a relationship and as a result communicated an overall feeling of unbridled frustration. Like a Stone, on the other hand, emanates a sense of cathartic closure, and represents a marked departure for the band both in their sound and storytelling.
This shift owes itself not just to the investments they’ve made in new equipment but also the shift in their outlook. No longer interested in creating the “perfect” track, Perry has allowed herself to feel her way through the lyrics. “When we were writing Slow Buzz, recording it and putting the finishing touches on it, I really tried to make sure I put everything I was trying to say in it, to the point of reworking lyrics and taking things out,” she recalls. “It worked for that album, but this time around… I put less pressure on myself to say everything that I needed to say or wanted to say and being less definitive in the process, because this isn’t going to be the last album that I’ll make in my life. I just took some of the pressure off and wrote what was in my head.”
Remember Sports have a knack for capturing both a peppy wistfulness and an all-consuming emotional intensity. Partly a result of Perry’s diaristic style of song-writing and the musical rawness of the band’s sound, the combination of the two strikes an unexpected chord.
Throughout this album there is a sense of evolution, of looking at the parts that make us who we are and acknowledging all their effects on both ourselves and our environment. Like a Stone holds nothing back as Remember Sports use the album as a vector to tackle themes of self doubt, insecurity and self hatred, turning them on their head in the process.