3 out of 5
Produced by: ?
It’s a bit too dismissive to describe a band / album as, in totality, sounding like something else, but it’s not only rather unavoidable with The Pope’s Sports to say that it sounds like early Lightning Bolt, I’d also guess that that’s rather intentional.
While Bolt isn’t / wasn’t the only group doing spazzed out, heavily reverbed, beat-heavy drums / bass rock, their maxed out version of it (and notes of psychedelia guiding the hardcore stomp) was always very particular; The Pope are pretty much doing that exactly, if an a slightly more direct and narrow fashion.
The indecipherable, echoey shout-speak atop a thundering riff and non-stop drumming is pure Lightning Bolt, with Sports giving us 2-minute slices of that, covering their slightly lesser thrashing abilities (at least as displayed) with layers and layers of dat sweet reverb and fuzz. Towards album’s end, we start to get some more unique sounding works – slowed down, rocking out, and pushed towards extremes that start to define the songs beyond their bluster – but before that, it really is a lot of, essentially, just sounding like Lightning Bolt. And it’s good at that! I don’t want to dismiss the skill of doing a proper capture of that sound, in way that’s still effected with passion, but it’s also not until the group steps away from that format that they have an opportunity at actually making some standout tracks, but tucking that at the end of 17 songs is a bit too late, unfortunately.