Letter to Self serves as a thrilling introduction to Irish post-garage punk act SPRINTS. It’s noisy, unapologetic, and damn well worth your time.

Release date: January 5, 2024 | City Slang | Official Website | Bandcamp | Instagram | Facebook | X/Twitter

A new year begets new and familiar anxieties – such is the terms and conditions of life. Dublin-based garage punk act SPRINTS, then, see no choice but to ride the emotional whirlpools that spawn out of them and unleash Letter to Self, a throttling debut release that quickly cements the four-piece as an exciting band to keep an eye on. These eleven tracks offer driving instrumentals along with an unfiltered collective performance that crudely embody the exasperation and resulting outbreak from suffocating expectations, both self-imposed and external.

Letter to Self is consumed by the what ifs and maybes of the mind that are eventually manifested as raging fuck its evident by the record’s overall demeanor – SPRINTS simply have no time to just sit in and ponder. The appropriately-titled opener “Ticking” starts the album off as a delirious cut whose use of sonic repetition (something that is compellingly prevalent throughout the rest of of the tracklist) drills into your head to the point of insanity which, of course, is a positive quality in this case. The lines in the chorus ‘because there’s ticking and there’s ringing in the backs of my ears/and I don’t know if I am living, or I’m just living here‘ explicitly calls for a release as these repressed feelings are fervently boiling at the seams of the blaring power chords and pounding drumming.

SPRINTS quickly prove their ability to accurately pinpoint the feelings of both inertia and full-on panic when met with the pressures of reaching towards certain high standards through the careless spirit of punk. Tracks such as “Heavy” and “A Wreck (A Mess)” are exemplary of this in their driving execution while also sporting the band’s contagiously melodic chops. Even toning things down does not dwindle the fieriness of it all; “Shaking Their Hands” expose the tiring monotony of putting up a smile at the capitalistic grind through reverberating post-punk passages, while “Shadow of a Doubt” palpably ruminates on trauma and suicidal ideation, with a riveting build-up that leads way to one of the most heartfelt and strongest vocal performances off the album.

Of course, all the pent-up anger and disquiet shown throughout stem in great part from societal expectations. “Adore Adore Adore” and “Up and Comer” bring the pure rock grooves to highlight noncomformity and the scrutinies that female musicians constantly face respectively. Conversely, “Can’t Get Enough of It” finds the band in their pocket as they reflect upon the isolation and general dormancy caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns. It is with “Cathedral”, however, that SPRINTS are at their most abrasive as shrilling instrumentals expose the rampant homophobic rhetorics coming from the mainly-Catholic Ireland, with the following lines serving as a fitting triumphant call to action that meshes fantastically with the sonic pandemonium underneath:

They say you call it punch drunk love
Call it power to abusers
He spits his propane and my refusal is a fueller
He’s singing from a hymn sheet
I’m singing for the others

Midst the chaos shines a beacon that brings forth much-awaited hope and vibrancy, a fact that SPRINTS poignantly demonstrate with the tracks “Literary Mind” and the self-titled closing track. The former is, for all intents and purposes, a love song filled with beautiful lyricism and a pop punk-tinged lightheartedness that makes the song an uplifting yet nonetheless energetic listen. The album’s closer, meanwhile, goes out with a bang by bringing it all together, musically and lyrically, and explores the growth inherent in the experiences laid throughout the record, marking an empowering ending to an ultimately frantic debut.

The impact that SPRINTS will be leaving behind with Letter to Self is clear-cut. The charisma and power shown at such an early point in their career is something to keep in mind and leave an exciting impression on where the broader rock genre will be taking off this year. There’s fury but also much thought put into each track, impressively showcasing very real emotions without losing focus of making sure the messages conveyed on the record is direct and effective. Indeed, what a way to start off 2024 – we’re absolutely in the cusp of witnessing something great with this band.

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