Sprints – Letter To Self (City Slang) (Album Review)

Sprints come roaring out of the gate with a debut album that proves that there is still life in guitar-based rock, especially if it has a post-punk edge.

And especially if the band is fronted by a singer/songwriter/guitarist with the talent that Karla Chubb displays on these 11 tracks.

Formed in 2019 in Dublin, the quartet…Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Jack Callan (drums) and Sam McCann (bass)…seem to pick up where the seemingly defunct Savages left off. In fact, the nucleus of the band formed when they “had a lightbulb moment at a Savages gig” realizing that maybe they could do this rock & roll thing too.

If you go to Sprints’ website, you’ll see that they describe themselves as a “garage punk band from Dublin, Ireland”. But one spin of their new album and you’ll realize just what an understatement that is.

SprintsSprints has been drip-feeding fans a string of singles (and a couple of Eps) since their debut single, The Cheek, back in September of 2019. Having been signed to City Slang about a year ago they’ve garnered rave reviews from the likes of the NME, Uncut and Mojo who called them “colossally exciting”.

Ok, enough with the hype, let’s talk about the album.

As is often the case these days, Letter To Self features five songs that have already been released as singles, with the most recent, Heavy, out just the day before the LP. Karla speaks/sings: Got a simple idea, I’m gonna make it stick I wanna say this fast, I wanna do this quick It goes one, two, three, it goes one, two, three…over a rumbling bass line and skittering guitar licks.

The vibe is both hallucinatory and suffocating as Karla asks, “Do you ever feel like the room is heavy?”

In fact, Chubb’s lyrics are full of questions…”Am I alive?”…”Are any of us happy?”…”Is everyone a wreck?”…and “Do you adore me?”.

That last query comes from Adore Adore Adore, a highlight of the album that finds Karla channeling Roger Daltry as she stutters, they never called me b-b-beautiful, they only called me insane”.

While Karla lyrics and her vocals are exhilarating, let’s not overlook the band behind her.

Opening track, Ticking, builds the intensity as the drums pound and the guitar chimes, sounding to these ear like classic Clash. Then, at the two-minute mark the quartet sonically explodes, rocking hard and fast as Karla yowls, “They’ll give you one, another, and they’ll take it away!!!”.

One can hear influences like Patti Smith, Siouxie Sioux, Bauhaus and P.J. Harvey running through tunes like Cathedral, Shadow Of A Doubt and Literary Mind, without them every sounding derivative.

Who would expect such a fresh, fierce and defiant slice of guitar-based rock and roll to come to us so early in the year.

And what better way to shake off the cobwebs of 2023 with a a good, loud dose of Sprints.

As Karla sings on album closer, Letter To Self…”I don’t have to take the path that was carved in front of me…any night can become day”.

Marty Duda