Like a Stone, the new album from the Philadelphia band Remember Sports, gave me a beloved sensation that is all too rare for me now. It took me back to my college radio days — both iterations — when a band and album could completely surprise me. That’s not to imply that Like a Stone is full of wild reinvention. Instead, it’s a sturdy, scintillating rock record. As we’re deep into a model where every new band, track, and album is forecast by radar-pinging announcements of incoming material (except for those few acts that have enough notoriety to plop unannounced releases fully formed onto the digital platform of their choosing), I’m too often following the trail sprinkled by artists I already know, or glomming onto whatever collection of cuts is deemed by an excitable music press as the latest inversion of everything we all previously believed to be true. I neglect the artists that have been around but not necessarily stirred entertainment punditry to weigh in on their merits, thereby denying myself the pleasures that I found sampling every last album freshly placed in heavy rotation until I found that made me halt and immediately long to hear more, to hear everything I could.
Some of this nostalgia is probably attributable to the comparisons that spring to mind for me as a I track through Like a Stone. The artists I pull up from my dusty memory banks are some of those that had the most thrilling, arresting breakthroughs when I was an eager undergrad. “Pinky Ring” is like a less anxious version of Eleventh Dream Day, “Out Loud” recalls the slightly curdled sweetness of the Sundays, and “Clock” hits like vintage Liz Phair, albeit a version of the Chicago agitator trying unsuccessfully to shake off the influence of the Juice Newton discs that reared her. I hear these tracks and I’m overwhelmed by an instinctual urge to figure out the perfect song to follow on the playlist and maybe start back-timing to hit the AP Network News feed at the top of the hour.
The bridge to my bygone days may be constructed out of the actual content of the lyrics, too. These whippersnappers are much younger than me, and lead singer Carmen Perry notes that the songwriting on this album is often inspired by misgivings about aging out of the freedom of youth.
“I feel like we’re all at a place where we sort of have to make a choice about what the rest of our lives are going to look like, and that’s super daunting,” Perry tells Atwood Magazine. “I don’t know if I’ve fully made a decision yet. I still feel like my life or my career are open-ended, but I don’t know. I guess in a way growing up feels like having less and less choices to make available to you. I’m just learning to deal with that.”
Sometimes the thesis of moving forward is more overt, as on the fretful charting of a romance in “Sentimentality” (“Stumbling over the remnants of a past I can’t let go/ It never goes away, it just falls down and builds like snow”). More often, the insecurity and ambivalence is in the songs’ bones. Fittingly, the album is full of sonic explorations that mirror those restless feelings, whether the delightful distortion of “Falling Awake,” the country twang of “Odds Are,” or the raucous, jam-packed title cut. Start to finish, Like a Stone is a terrific, stealthily inventive record. It’s memorable.