Remember Sports was a self-categorized “basement rock band” when they formed as a group of Kenyon College students in 2012. The band’s electrifying pop punk bonafides and the inimitable vocals of frontperson and primary songwriter Carmen Perry found them quick acclaim and a home at Father/Daughter Records. 2018’s Slow Buzz, their first as Philadelphians, saw a new lineup of the band collaboratively writing, building depth and elaboration to their compositions and production. Heavy touring alongside high-energy art punk heroes like Jeff Rosenstock and Joyce Manor brought their tightly synced playing to a stronger level, while headlining dates supported by favorite artists like Lomelda, Trace Mountains and Pllush inspired them to embrace meandering flourishes in their songs. When they came off the road, they were ready to write, entering a meticulous pre-production and demoing process, rehearsing in sectionals to help every moment blossom. Like a Stone, the result of that work, contains some of the smartest performances and arrangements in contemporary indie rock. While they’ve maintained the warmth and immediacy that made the quartet so beloved when they first connected to one another years ago, it’s hard to imagine songs this huge relegated solely to the basement.
Remember Sports’ third album for Father/Daughter builds on the promise of their last, with an elevated sense of space and sound. Taking a multi-instrumental approach, the band members—bassist Catherine Dwyer, guitarist Jack Washburn, drummer Connor Perry and guitarist and singer Carmen—traded instruments throughout, resulting in biting bass-and-drum grooves, entrancing percussion layers, saturated synths and drum machines, and found sound minutiae from Connor’s circuit-bent electronics the band calls “evil items.” Carmen’s singing, meanwhile, even more expertly turns on its heel from pop-perfect vocal runs to squirmy sneers. “I like mixing the pretty and polished with our vibe, which is more detuned and discordant,” says Carmen of their distinctive approach.
Remember Sports’ most influential rock forebears make compelling reference points, from the interlocking guitar sophistication of Built to Spill, the eclectic pop snark of Rilo Kiley, the blown-out might of Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods, and the catchy intimacy of Yo La Tengo, who the band went to see together on a tour field trip. Former tourmates also provided inspiration, especially Nadine, whose Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader engineered and mixed the album while frontperson Nadia Hulett provided backing vocals. Catherine describes the experience of working with proper analog outfittings as “thrilling” and used the studio environment to channel another of the band’s co-writing heroes: Fleetwood Mac. “I love Tusk and tried to copy the lovely straight into the console tone they get on some guitars on that record,” she says. “I love when a guitar sounds like it has absolutely no air around it at all.”