Dublin-based quartet Sprints ignite an uprising on societal ills and our own self-destructive nature on their furious, exhilarating, and awesome debut EP, ‘Manifesto’.
2020 will be remembered for a lot of things – a global pandemic, leaders spewing lies after lies as they sought to paint an alternative reality, and attacks on institutions that we once viewed as sacred. Within the conflict and disorder, one genre best captured the times while articulating the angst, frustration, and concerns of the people. Post-punk was the music of the past year, and it featured some of the finest music of the 21st Century. While Fontaines D.C., IDLES, and Protomartyr stole the headlines, an upstart outfit from Dublin quickly rose from the ashes and turned heads.
With just a few singles, Sprints made themselves heard. They became the voice of the disenfranchised and the powerless, using their platform to attack misogynists, manipulators, and the power-hungry. Karla Chubb (lead vocals/guitar), Sam McCann (bass/backing vocals), Colm O’Reilly (guitar/backing vocals), and Jack Callan’s (drums) music was so jarring that they were included as one of our Artists to Watch in 2021. They’re not, however, just one to keep an eye on for this year, but for many years to come. They have the potential to be one of this decade’s most powerful musical forces, and their debut EP, Manifesto, is the initial volley to mark their forthcoming reign.
The record is a tight four songs, but it feels like a 90-minute concert. It is anthemic, intense, and exhilarating and made to blow listeners’ minds. The groans of the electric guitar and Callan’s deft percussion open “Drones”, giving it a somber yet foreboding atmosphere. Chubb’s voice then calmly enters the fray. She targets the shallowness of humanity, and how we no long to be someone else. With a monotone delivery, Chubb sings, “Everyone is empty”, including herself. The band, however, don’t stay long in this dreary place, as a wall of crushing noise suddenly overwhelms Chubb’s vocal. At this point, she hollers with a sinister refrain, “Maybe I always wanted to be like you / Maybe you always wanted to be like me.”
The song brilliantly bleeds into the seismic “Swimming”. Jittery, on-the-ledge, grimy guitar riffs and propulsive rhythms kick off the track. Chubb’s vocals, meanwhile, rage with purpose and disgust. She is laying waste to governments’ decisions to cater to capitalist ventures at the expense of social initiatives. While people struggle to make ends meet, city councils are cutting deals with businesses. She smartly says at the start:
“I’ve been working full-time since I was 17
And I still have four coins in my pocket”.
While she and others count their pennies, a new indoor whitewater rafting center is being erected in the middle of Dublin. Who cares if we have no heat nor running water because we can all jump in the pool and go swimming.
The adrenaline-inducing, eye-bulging, scream-until-you-can’t-breathe-anymore scorcher, “Manifesto”, follows. As the overdriven guitars ram through the military-style rhythms, Chubb’s voice rises like the Commander-in-Chief. Today is not the end of our existence nor the day we succumb to the wishes of the few. It is the beginning of an awakening where we stand for our rights. Or for Chubb, specifically, to fight for women’s rights and not allow a bunch of middle-aged, white men dictate their actions and words.
“I don’t need nobody to tell me what to do
And I don’t need nobody to tell me what to say
I’ve got a policy of understanding
An economy that’s underwhelming
And I can’t shake the sense I’m stuck in pretense
And just wishing my life away”
Just like how it all began, the record ends with the furious “Ashley”. Raw and gritty, the track is more early ’80s garage punk-rock than post-punk. The first half is fast and blistering, as if the quartet are performing the show’s ultimate number. Then the unexpected happens, as the song slows down and a sense of calm consumes the air. Chubb then emotively reaches out to the protagonist, asking her to tell the truth about what is happening in her mind and what she feels. “I’d die for you, lie for / Wait in the middle of the night for you”, she urgently sings to this person she has only gotten to know online. In today’s world, even our human connections are digital. Sprints’ music, though, is all real, encouraging all of us to stand up and listen. To stand up and be heard.
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