Sports Coach is a solo project from California’s J. Thatcher May. Their latest album Limitations is a collection of eccentric art pop and synthwave that’s trippy and fun in its own distinctive way. Sports Coach’s music reaches far beyond the time-space continuum for its experimental sounds, but there’s plenty of familiarity in here for indie pop fans to latch on to. As for instrumentation, Sports Coach uses synths, drum machines and washed out reverb to paint a compelling digital soundscape. Overall the sound gathers ideas from modern indie and digi pop with a strong 80’s influence and a drive for the eccentric. Moods can change from chilled out to somber, ideas go from fantastic to delirious in plenty of interesting ways.
Thatcher’s lyricism evokes themes of nostalgia, loneliness and anxiety, with metaphors and imagery that often goes beyond the atmosphere. All this wrapped up with their unique flair for balancing the poetic and absurd. There’s depth of introspection to be seen in the lyrics of these songs, yet the vocals are often too washed out that they remain abstracted in the mix. Take a closer peek however, and there’s some eye-opening tidbits within.
Opener “Illusion” has a larger-than-life sound to it, with radiant synths and arpeggios shimmering like an aurora on top of the pulsing drums. Sports Coach invites us to “push back / it’s your life”, to follow our guiding light and life freely. “Cali Cornballer” is an off-kilter lofi song with a somber mood. In it, he muses on the distance between the people he cares about and the struggle to find peace of mind.
Other highlights include “Tunaz Town”, a digital slow-dancing tune that’s fit for travelling across other dimensions. “J-Ro’s Ramp” has some really dynamic sounds with shifting moods that ebb and flow from urgent to relaxed. “Figured” stands out as an instrumental, a slow moving progression that feels relaxing and natural even with its completely digital instruments. My favorite track has to be the later cut “Lt. Commander Data”. The star trek android and commander is already an apt representation of Sports Coach synthwave sound, but it’s leveraged it even better with strong existential themes.
Sports Coach is a unique experience in art pop. Where mind-bending and chill music meet halfway and dance above the earth’s atmosphere. One I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something new.