Sunday League
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Sunday League Resurrect Competent Britpop

Neo-Britpoppers Sunday League bring baroque rock muscle, energetic walls of sound, plus enough British pub swagger to nick your pint right off the bar.

Sunday League
Sunday League
Sunday League
8 March 2024

Being a snooty music columnist, sometimes obscurity itself can prove irresistible. Go ahead, try Googling the London band Sunday League. You’ll wind up with at least four other acts sharing the same name (Sunday League vs. The Sunday League), plus lots of advice and information about British football schedules. As of this writing, the album’s YouTube playlist has 24 views. Pretty much the only dope we could dig up comes from their succinct Bandcamp bio, which we cannot improve upon:

“Sunday League are a five-a-side band based in London, UK. Bound by football and trapped by mutual, crippling anxiety related to modern life, they lean into writing songs about polygamy, drugs, and rising interest rates whilst knowing nothing about any of it. Their music is loud, groovy and harks back to dueling nineties anthemic harmonies that are designed to be yelled back at them.”

In other words, Britpop. For many of us, 1990s Britpop was an initially satisfying fad that got really old, really fast. Acts like Oasis, Suede, and Blur certainly had their moments and sold plenty of records, fronting a sunnier antidote to dour American grunge. But in the end, glam swagger is only as enduring as the music behind it. By century’s end, many of these bands either imploded in acrimony or couldn’t keep the quality going.

Perhaps the most pleasant exception to this rule were Los Angeles’ the Shore, whose sterling records Light Years (2008) and Second Sight (2013) temporarily reinvigorated the genre. Now, ten years removed, Sunday League have fired another competent and gratifying shot across Old Man Britpop’s bow at last. All the requisite style elements are here: baroque rock muscle; energetic, smartly-paced solos; Phil Spector-style walls of sound; plus enough British pub swagger to nick your pint right off the bar.

Sunday League also boast a knack for soft-yet-seductive chord progressions, like the chiming guitar that opens “On Again” before blossoming into a delightful, wide-open sonic wash. Although this masterfully constructed track quickly became my favorite – one of the year’s best – Sunday League’s intrinsic bravado is also evident on openers “Ghosted” and “One Hit Wonder”. “Hey Blue’s” buzzing intro is a dead ringer for earlier talented progenitors like Cast, as are the lead singer’s reedy yet convincing vocals. (We couldn’t find his name anywhere. Now that’s obscurity! But we are prepared to live with the mystery.) The drawling and insistent “7/10” resembles the Shore’s more contemplative moments, which is definitely a good thing. The closer, “Hold It Down”, follows the “grand finale” tradition common to many Britpop releases, with its greater length and slower tempo gradually building to epic grandeur.

The album’s sole weak link is “7/10”, which sounds like misguided late-era Led Zeppelin and comes off as too long and lugubrious for its own good. Otherwise, you can hear this worthwhile release on Spotify and Apple Music or purchase it on in 24-bit hi-res if ownership is your thing. Sunday League, the album hasn’t yet been posted on Bandcamp, but it will surely find its way there soon.

The older we get, the more resistant our crowded rock playlist becomes to new additions. Sunday League managed to crack our list, and it should join yours, too.

RATING 7 / 10