Good Sport Release 'Big Push'
"Big Push" is about confronting your demons head on, neutralizing them with humor, and empowering yourself to be better. It's a fun synthy dance punk throwback. Full bio below by Eli Enis.
Ryan Hizer is a DIY lifer. The 35-year-old musician moved from Morgantown, WV to Pittsburgh in 2011, leaving behind the legacy of a moderately successful band called Librarians, and starting a synth-driven solo project called Good Sport as he adjusted to his new surroundings. Over the years, Hizer joined other bands and produced music for other artists, establishing himself as the sort of figure who your friend speaks highly of but you’ve never met personally. Like all veterans of the indie music ecosystem—a social scene with inherently rapid turnover that naturally skews young—there comes a time when you’ve been in the game so long that you begin to question why you’re even bothering anymore. Loading up the trunk on a frosty Tuesday night to go play to ten people in a basement begins to feel more hopeless after a decade of telling yourself that it’s all part of the grind, that it’ll eventually be worth it. What if it isn’t?
Boring Magic, Good Sport’s long-awaited debut album, is a simultaneously sobering and tongue-in-cheek reckoning with age and existentialism. It was written while Hizer, who’s always been cagey about the passing of time, was feeling particularly awkward while performing and partying with people ten years his junior. Across seven songs in just a brief 20 minutes, he examines the discomfort all of us will inevitably feel if we stick around long enough, and he translates those sentiments through synth-pop that’s fit for after-hours bars and TV show finales; situations that evoke desperate hope even though the end has arrived. Geniously, Hizer is in on the gag, acknowledging the humor and low stakes of these seemingly grandiose emotions through snippets of lyrical dialogue and self-aware assessments.
Opener “Teenage Heat” is an extremely funny song about being the oldest person at the gig. Recalling the one-sided conversation in Weezer’s “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, Hizer is interrogated about his age and social status by a snobby stranger, and each time he responds meekly, his voice shamefully buried in auto-tune. “Aren’t you like 40? / No, I’m 34 / I’ve never heard of you, were you, like, popular? / Oh yeah, literally everyone cared, I guess you had to be there.” His singing voice is like a cross between the playful coo of TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and the dejected deadpan of Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. Over a shimmering keyboard line and a thumping beat on the LCD Soundsystem-esque “Game of Pretend”, Hizer feels silly about allowing himself to be hopeful in the first place. “But what if nothing happens next?” he wonders during the end of each verse, exploring an existential quandary in the context of an unrequited romance: well, I’ve gotten here and I have nothing to show for it. What if this is it?
“Big Push” has a Talking Heads-like stroll to it and “The Alphabet” contains a synth loop placed neatly over a woozy, after-midnight groove. But it’s the songs about magic that tie the whole project together. “Overrated” begins with a soundbite of a magician describing how to do a trick over an overblown kick drum: “The bottom card will always stay the same”, he utters with a resigned melancholy, reinforcing the record’s motifs of stagnation and repetition. Two tracks later arrives a minute-and-a-half-long instrumental interlude that brings to mind the crystalline soundtrack of the film Uncut Gems, a work of art that’s also about the almost comical futility of everything. In that film, Daniel Lopatin’s score paints a veneer of glamour over the vacuous glitz of the diamond industry, and here, the title Hizer chose has a similar effect. “Abracadabra” is a magician’s mantra of victory, the word they proclaim at the climax of their illusion—but the track ends before the trick is even executed.
While making Boring Magic, Hizer accepted that it could be his swan song, but ironically it’s the most compelling reason for why he should continue creating. His lyrics are deeply relatable and his compositions are as danceable as they are suited for solitary pondering, a style that may go over the heads of the pretentious 21-year-olds he feels threatened by. That’s OK, they’ll get it one day.