Cub Sport’s Jesus At The Gay Bar: Spiritual shackles, begone!

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Cub Sport’s Jesus At The Gay Bar: Spiritual shackles, begone!

Cub Sport Jesus At The Gay Bar
Words by Bryget Chrisfield

The title of Cub Sport’s fifth album, Jesus At The Gay Bar, shares its name with a poem by Jay Hulme. During said poem “a boy” approaches Jesus on the dancefloor, begging to be “healed… to be anything other than this”. Instead, Jesus reassures him: “...there is nothing in this heart of yours that ever needs to be healed.”

Cub Sport’s lead singer Tim Nelson has said he wishes he’d read this perspective-shifting poem while struggling to overcome his own identity-based shame surrounding queerness and religion (“having literally spent years of my life praying every day that I wouldn’t be gay anymore”), and hopes this set of songs will, similarly, help guide others towards self-acceptance.

“Always got the love/ Always got the love when it’s me and you…” – Cub Sport’s lyrics are extra poignant in light of their intraband love story: initially still closeted and in denial about their true feelings for one another, Nelson and keyboardist Sam “Bolan” Netterfield – who both grew up as members of a super-conservative and homophobic Pentecostal church – eventually came out and, in 2018, they tied the knot – squee!

Keep Me Safe is a postcard to Nelson’s former self – “Went and got a girlfriend/ Just to throw them off track” – back when the couple’s intimate moments were shrouded in secrecy and fear. “And I miss it/ But I don’t want it back…” – Replay, which flutters like a racing heartbeat, captures the excitement of stolen kisses and forbidden love. High For The Summer feat. Shamir (“We get high/ Just to get by”) floats in a suspended state of euphoria before Keep Me Safe (“I just wanna drive forever/ I don’t wanna come back ever”) careens down the freeway of love, full-tilt.

This album’s outstanding fourth single, Songs About It – a piano-house banger – transports us to the middle of a heaving dancefloor, lost in music worship and vibrating on the same frequency as our chosen congregation.

A smattering of vocal effects add ethereal, otherworldly atmosphere throughout (eg. the pitched-up “No one else around”s during Beg U – with its delightfully unexpected industrial-clank percussion – add desperation and emotional resonance). Nelson has described Mallrat’s chopped vocals, which elevate the record’s penultimate track Yaya, as sounding “like a little alien angel” – love! Then closer Magic In U – “You’re going to be alright/ And I’m always on your side/ I can see the magic in ya” – pulls listeners in for a comforting hug.

Jesus At The Gay Bar finds Cub Sport proudly celebrating queer joy – spiritual shackles, begone! – and more comfortable in their own skin than ever before.

Label: Cub Sport Records
Release date: April 7