I feel woefully unqualified to write about a band as cool as Cub Sport. Well actually, I feel woefully unqualified to write anything. I mean, I’m an engineering student. If you need someone to calculate volume using the end-area method then I’m your man, but ask me to write something and I’ll end up spewing out something like this.
But my writing actually improves if you stare at each sentence for at least 10 minutes. At that point, your mind tends to rearrange my prose from a jumbled haze of letters into something that makes sense, much like staring at a cloud. I call it “cloud writing”, or at least I did until some skywriting business came after me for trademark encroachment, so now I just call it cloud sport.
Like sneaking downstairs to open Christmas presents early, Cub Sport give us a peek at This Is Our Vice with a brand new single Runner.
That’s an incredibly long-winded (shit pun intended) appropriation of how Cub Scouts™ became Cub Sport, but that was almost three years ago now, so I think we’ve had time to move on and embrace the “sport” – it’s what Gatsby would’ve wanted.
Today, Cub Sport are teasing us with another new track ahead of the release of their debut LP, This Is Our Vice, on the 4th of March. Based on the tracks they’ve dropped so far, it’s shaping up to be a pretty killer album.
Runner is the latest track that Cubbies are letting us in on, and we’re pretty pumped to be premiering it. It’s presumably one of the few tracks we’ve premiered that was partially recorded on a pair of Apple Earpods. Listen out for the backing vocals in the second chorus – behind all the reverb and delay effects, that’s Cub Sport frontman Tim Nelson wailing into his headphone mic like some socially-awkward teen doing a Justin Bieber cover on YouTube (it was like five years ago, okay. Get over it).
Strange sounds like these stand out against a sparse and stripped back soundscape. When we hit the chorus, the snare and bass line briefly abandon us, replaced by a top line on the bells and some subtle tapping on the ride cymbal. The bass line then jumps back in, now following the melody set by the bells and providing somewhat of a counter melody to the rest of the song. It’s rare for a chorus to act as an anticlimax, but that’s pretty much what we get in Runner. If Kelly Clarkson was dead she’d be rolling in her grave.
A slowly modulating synth sound accompanies us throughout the verses and pre-chorus, both grounding the song and providing an ethereal and dreamy atmosphere. It also acts as a base for the competition between the programmed drums that featured on the original demo version and the real drums that have been blended into the final cut.
That sort of instrumental apprehensiveness mirrors the lyrical content of the track. According to Nelson, the song is about being a ‘runner’, someone who doesn’t want to settle: “It’s about meeting someone that you unexpectedly want to open up to and be with and dealing with the fact that you’re about to let your guard down.”
The theme of uncertainty carries through to the song’s last moments. Rather than ending on some defined note or lyric, the instrumental – along with the distant “ooh-ooh”-ing vocals – slowly fades into the ether, easing us away but leaving us stranded and directionless.
Runner is a track that shows off Cub Sport’s versatility in both songwriting and arrangement yet retains their patented groove. It gives us even more ammunition to get hyped for the release of the album on Friday, which, if you use maths, is only four days away.