Sprints: Letter to Self – Confessional album deals with experiences of struggle

Five days into 2024 and already the cobwebs have been blown away

Letter to Self
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Artist: Sprints
Genre: Postpunk
Label: City Slang

There is no gleaming surface left untouched, no scorched-earth policy left unread: when you’re in the presence of the Dublin band Sprints it’s like being escorted into a venue where earplugs are banned, where you are asked to leave your notions at the door, and where sweat trickles down the walls and gathers on the floor in tiny pools that then ripple to the reverberations. As they release their debut album at the start of a new year, Sprints are fully aware that the first few pages of their manifesto are, as Sultans of Ping would have it, being put to the test-o.

Perhaps unusually for a debut album, however, the songs don’t sound as if they’ve been hanging around for years. Every one of the 11 tracks – even the oldest, Literary Mind, which was released in 2022 – share fresh air with each other. High fives, then, to producer Daniel Fox (bass player with Gilla Band), who has imbued the songs with a crunchy, crackling push-pull dynamism.

The title of this album refers to the confessional, therapeutic nature of the songs, which, says the band’s singer and lyric writer, Karla Chubb, deal with her experiences of struggle (“with identity, sexuality and not just knowing what the right place in the world for me is,” she told this paper last year). Every word here is about unravelling the knots of anxiety that can twist and tighten; the music is the adjoining strand where a song such as Shadow of a Doubt, with its tornado-like spirals and spins, can, says Chubb, “symbolise that pure terrifying fall into darkness, and the almost silent call for help… the feeling of loneliness, abandonment and exile.”

Such is the sonic pace of the album that its songs zip by without necessarily feeling the anguish of Chubb’s words. “I feel the heat burning, building from within” (Literary Mind), “I can feel that I’m sinking, yeah, the water is freezing” (Adore Adore Adore) and “I swim the seas between paranoia and disbelief” (Up and Comer) skate below the surface of terrific postpunk songs that batter the senses, while the savage sandblasting of the title track delivers the album’s statement of intent: the acceptance of diversity and the power of personality: “maybe my body don’t look like yours, maybe my life don’t look like yours, maybe my wife won’t look like yours… Maybe I don’t want to look like you.”


Five days into 2024 and already the cobwebs have been blown away.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture