Under Review

Cruel Sport / Nice Apple

Cruel Apple Nice Sport

Self-Released ; 14/06/2017

Mark Budd

Cruel Apple Nice Sport at its core is an homage to the minimalistic pop of Beat Happening and Eric’s Trip. Yet, Cruel Sport and Nice Apple spread seeds that mark the split-tape as their own turf — throwing their fruit far enough from the tree as to not wither in the shade.

Buzzsaw guitar chords and minimalist percussion advance Cruel Sport through five never-over-three-minute songs. The dry vocals use straightforward narratives that dress the music with simple melodies. “Snackland” has Cruel Sport in a hypnotic lock of distortion and robotic poetry. The magnetic pop on “Song of love” has the three-piece intertwining instruments and voice into an up-tempo dream. The contrast, and the gradient between the songs, shows the ground Cruel Sport is able to cover within the pop realm.

Occupying the second half of the tape, Nice Apple play with dry guitar notes and modest drums, punctuating five songs with fibrous texture and tempo. The vocals sprout from hooks that bob along to strong and gritty harmonies. With the exception of the George Harrison cover, the original songs don’t escape the ninety-second mark — perhaps a byproduct of the analog recording. Within this time constraint, Nice Apple is able to make songs like “Make something” and “Thanks a lot” into ripe exhibits of succinct songwriting.

The split-tape Cruel Apple Nice Sport offers simplicity in the form of ten concise pop songs. At a little over twenty minutes, Cruel Sport and Nice Apple extend their branches past their influences, reaching toward their own piece of sun. Headphones up and leave that auto-reverse switch on, please.