In the late 2000s to the early 2010s we saw a generous swell in the indie rock scene in Australia. Plucky guitars and lyrics of youthful misadventures were all the rage (well, that last part will always be the rage due to the nature of pop music). Bands like Little Red, Ball Park Music and Cub Scouts dominated youth radio and spawned several soundtracks for Summer.
After a run in with Scouts Australia, the formerly named Cub Scouts became the less lawsuity Cub Sport, and with their debut album on the way the band are ready to reveal the lead single Only Friend. Remember all that sunny, good time pop-rock we were talking about? Forget it, the Cubs are ready to put you through the wringer with this one.
Taking their indie-pop to strange and wonderfully dark new places, Brisbane four-piece Cub Sport serve up Only Friend, the first taste of the debut LP.
For anyone familiar with the band’s previous work Only Friend may catch you off guard. Less playful and more contemplative, the track begins with the echo of the bouncing keys. Tim Nelson’s voice oozes onto the track with “Looking at the world isn’t inspiring it’s intimidating“, an air of self-defeat and apathy rolling from the track in waves. It’s a song that sees Nelson purge isolation and emotional stresses from his system, only to have them cycle back. The intense chorus reflects this well before settling back on that lone keyboard part.
The band have clearly expanded on their ability to craft clever pop songs, Only Friend an indicator of the more spacious nature they’ve taken to give their music a more dynamic punch. The key that makes Only Friend work so well is the vocals. As you listen in you know they were written during a trying time for Nelson, and he communicates those stresses in a way that allows you to empathise and still be entertained. “All of the vocals you hear are the original ones, from my bedroom as I was writing it,” he says. “It truly captured that moment”.
This is a very promising taste of what is to come from Cub Sport. Each listen leaves you aching to hear more as you’re pulled further into Nelson’s world. Despite its bleak outlook Only Friend maintains a balance in its tone. Sure there is an overwhelming presence of sadness, but there remains an air of hope for the future that comes to life during the exuberant chorus.
Cub Sport’s debut album This Is Our Vice will be released March 4 2016.