27 Sep 2020
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This Sporting Life - Album Review: Alms For Children

03 Aug 2018 // A review by Darryl Baser

With the postal service in steady decline it's always great when a CD arrives unsolicited. Especially when it is a band you've never hear of from 30 years ago, then you put it on and it sounds as fresh as it would have to the people who grew up with it.

Fans of New Zealand's The Gordons and Die! Die! Die!, as well as UK's Wire, will be thrilled to hear this CD.

The CD opens with the song Failsafe, which would give a southern record label its name.

Its 35 years since This Sporting Life played their last shows at Mainstreet, which was demolished shortly thereafter (coincidence?).

This Sporting Life/Alms For Children make angular music; sharp, fast and at times aggressive. There is the occasional reggae influence, as fitting with the decade in which they made music.

In my not at all humble opinion this CD should reside in every young musician’s collection. The performances are tight, or lose enough to be cool, and it’s no frills post punk rawk. It really is a no bullshitting great LP.

At a time when distortion or jangle were king, TSL played clean, but percussive guitars which have expertly captured in this release.

They were the first Auckland band to be signed to the fledgling Flying Nun Record label and were an early departure from the now defining sound of the label. Sharing more in common with the post punk brittle, angular sounds out of the UK than the psych guitar strains of Dunedin’s finest, TSL sat in a different place to most of their label mates.

At the band’s peak This Sporting Life played support for UK northern punk legends The Fall.

This 24 song CD is a great testament to a sound sometimes forgotten in a world of auto-tune, sampling and heavily electronic music. The album is raw, at times brutal, and has stayed in the car’s CD player for ages.

★★★★ (4 stars)


Review written by Darryl Baser

 

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