Jesus At The Gay Bar, the fifth studio album by Australian indie-pop band Cub Sport – a no-skip album, may we add – was released in April 2023 to critical acclaim. Referencing Jay Hulme's poem by the same name, Jesus at the Gay Bar touches on the complicated feelings of queer love and identity while maintaining an uplifting and euphoric spirit.
A fantastic dance album that punches you to the core in the best way possible, it's the band's strongest piece of work yet.
We spoke with numerous Cub Sport fans around the world to curate our first community-led album review.
Review is hardly the right word, though.
We're sharing a compilation of vulnerable anecdotes and words of inspiration; tales of how individual tracks deeply resonate to the personal lives of strangers from all corners of the globe. It's an honest, heart-on-sleeve breakdown.
The goal of our community-led album breakdowns is to share the perspectives of fans as it relates their favorite musicians' music, without the sharp critical lens typically found from major music publications. We're not interested in rating an album from 1-10 or dissecting each track's chord progression – we want to get to the core of the thoughts & feelings from the audience that matters the most: the fan.
With that being said, we're thrilled to begin with Cub Sport's JATGB for our first track-by-track breakdown.
Softside note: for this particular write-up, we sprinkled in some of our own thoughts on a few favorite songs from the album. As our platform and outreach grows, we aim for 100% of the community breakdowns to be 100% fan-written. <3
ALWAYS GOT THE LOVE
Words by Marion Dutton
I first Started Listening to Cub Sport in 2019 when I attended one of their shows with my best friend in Australia. I had heard of a few of their songs and liked them a lot. When they released their new album Jesus At The Gay Bar I was very excited to hear their new work.
The first track I listened to was "Always Got the Love" and it immediately became one of my favourites. When I got tickets to one of their shows in the UK, I knew I wanted to hear it live as soon as possible. I even listened to it on repeat to manifest that they would play it live. When I went their show in Manchester it was the first song they played. I will never forget that moment when I heard it live for the first time. The feeling of screaming the lyrics and the lead singer, Tim, looked at me as I was singing the words.
That moment made me love the song even more than I already did. It gave a new meaning to the song and I will always think of that moment whenever I listen to it. When I listen to the song I think of the beach and the sunny days whilst driving a car with the windows down, scream[ing] the lyrics to [my] favourite song. I don’t necessarily relate to the lyrics, [but] it’s still one of my favs from the new album and it will definitely be one of my top songs on my Spotify Wrapped this year.
Words by Chelsea McIlvaine (she/her)
Ahhh “Replay," the treasured second song on Cub Sport’s latest project Jesus At The Gay Bar. When I listen to this track it evokes the imagery of light shimmering and twinkling on a pool’s surface. The movement of the song makes sense with this metaphor as well. I don’t know why, it just does!
The second feeling that arises while listening to “Replay” is an overall reminiscent one. Before the lyrics even begin, one’s mind almost flashes back to fond memories of nothing in particular, but it tickles the neurons and makes the brain happy!
Once the lyrics do come in, however, the song brings to mind the memory of a past lover – perhaps a past lover that never became a committed partner. You and this person had really great times together, but for some reason or another they never wanted to commit to you. Or in other words, they didn’t want you like you wanted them. This sentiment is specifically brought to mind by the lyrics: “look at me now, I’m all the things that you could never see in me”. There are no spiteful vibes however, as this lyric is directly followed by “but I still think about you, wherever you are, I just hope you’re free."
So while the song is reminiscent about the one that got away, it still reflects a sense of emotional maturity as the listener strolls down memory lane in their mind. It’s almost as if the writers were aware of the feelings the song might evoke, and wanted to comfort the listener by encouraging a positive recollection of those feelings.
And it worked! While this song does make me relive memories, I don’t get hung up on them. If I could pick a corny wall decor phrase to describe this song, it would be “don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened." Funnily enough, as all of these complex emotions arise, the song still makes me want to DANCE *woman dancing emoji*. I literally LOSE MY MIND when I hear the bass drop! Towards the end, I feel at peace with the emotions the song brought up. It was nice reliving the pleasures of a past life, but I am happy here, in this moment and I wouldn’t change a thing about how that relationship concluded.
The lyrics “higher without you now, lessons in the deeper pain, and I miss it, but I don’t want it back” bring the song to a close, and with it, the listener returns to the present. Honestly, as I write this, I’m like “OK, go off miss analytical queen!!” but for real, this is an amazing song. And what's even more amazing is the complex meaning and feelings you can find in your favorite songs and it’s been really fun exploring that through this review! <3
HIGH FOR THE SUMMER
Words by Softside Staff
A shimmery track that brings us to the endless warm nights spent with quick loves, long car rides, and too much time on our hands.
‘til you understand
That there’s more than we can see around
We can take it higher now
We could see it upside down
If we wanted
These lyrics are seeped in nostalgia for more youthful days; the juxtaposing time in our lives where we are both invincible and naïve. There is a whole world of possibility, and we can do whatever we want: explore it, try to understand it, get high, go upside down. It doesn't matter what we do.
I changed my life
And feeling I am better off not under your thumb
But if you wanna fill your lungs
You can come
Toxic relationships and not enough to do over the summer leads us to... more toxic decisions. We care to be better, but we're also careless enough to keep it going.
But, alas, as we know, summers do not last forever, and neither do those youthful nights of getting high with the wrong people.
"High for the Summer" is red hot with an up-tempo beat and distorted vocals that bring us right to the sweaty dancefloor. It encapsulates the fuzzy memories associated with the friends, lovers, and days that pass us by as we grow up.
... KEEP ME SAFE
Words by Garyson (he/him)
"Keep Me Safe" is about being in the closet while secretly dating a guy. It also speaks of my bittersweet experience, similar to the song.
The year before moving to Canada, I came out to my high school friends. Being naïve, I didn’t expect the torments. I lost my friends. And I was bullied at school every day because of my sexuality. Those were the worst days of my life.
After moving to Canada, I was terrified of my sexuality being exposed. So I lied to everyone in my high school. I lived a double life as I feared every day that history would repeat. “Went and got a girlfriend just to throw them off track” was precisely what I did to avoid being outed. I was happy. But I grew tired of putting on a melodrama so no one could find out.
Until I met my first boyfriend at first, we were hiding from everyone. We would lay in bed and dream about being out and living our lives together to the fullest like straight couples. We dreamt of holding hands in public, walking on the beach wearing matching beachwear, and having a gay wedding with all our friends.
Our love eventually gave me the strength and courage to come out. Despite my ultimate fears, he held my hands through every decision.
The night before my coming out, he picked me up and said, “If it goes wrong, we’ll both pack up and drive forever. We’ll never come back.” This echoes with the lyric, “I just wanna drive forever. I don't wanna come back ever,” as we were prepared to skip town and move far away if it wasn’t safe.
“I just wanna die in our heaven.
I could lose it all, whatever.
I just wanna die in our heaven.”
We were young but we knew life will be hard if we decided to move away. But as long as we were together, we would risk everything for it. We would rather die in our heaven.
He understood my experience from before. And he was ready to give up everything and move, if it would keep me safe.
Unexpectedly, everyone accepted my come out very well, especially when a lot of my friends already knew it long ago. We could finally show the world that we were in love. Even though we never ended up having the cause to skip town, he kept me safe.
However, all good things come to an end. He, unfortunately, passed away from cancer complications a few months later. It was a sudden death as he was gone just 2 weeks after his diagnosis.
When I heard this song at launch, it reminded me of our relationship and my days being in the closet. Despite my efforts to repress the memories, I had a supercut in my head that displayed every moment from my closet-days, our secret love, then being out, until our last goodbye.
I drove down the same country roads playing “Keep Me Safe.” I could almost feel him being by my side. It felt like that night when we were both ready to give up everything if it would keep me safe.
I drove forever until I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore. My sight was blocked by the endless tears. I pulled over and said “I just wanna die in our heaven.”
Words by Bel (they/them)
"Zoom" means so much to me; I don’t think I can fully capture how much I love this song.
The first time I listened to it, I got goosebumps from the moment the chorus kicked in. I was immediately obsessed. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket and feeling everything else melt away. I close my eyes and see a swirl of deep purples and blues. My heart swells with warmth.
The lyrics also make this song really special to me. “The first time that I saw your face / Felt like a scene from a movie / Coming of age” – hearing this, I’m immediately transported to the first time I saw my partner, and the instant connection I felt to them. I fell hard, and still find myself staring at pictures of them on my phone now.
“And sometimes I feel crazy / Swear I'm the weirdest one I know” – this is just extremely relatable, and makes me feel less crazy knowing that someone else feels this way too (thanks Tim, ily).
And can’t forget the iconic line: “I kinda wanna ruin my liiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIFE” – I just wanna SCREAM along to this, it so perfectly captures the intensity of falling in love.
"Zoom" is perfection, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of listening to it.
SONGS ABOUT IT
Words by Softside Staff
Oh man, this one makes us want to shake our booties.
Something about the thumping beat coupled with the magnetic, repetitive vocals. The dazzling pianoline. "Songs About It" is a track to let loose. It's a night out on town feeling alive and unapologetic.
It also encompasses the feeling of being wildly infatuated with someone and not stopping it. We're brought to those moments of electricity felt with a crush, or perhaps a stranger at the bar. You hopelessly want the night to keep on going at any cost.
Blow off all of my friends
'Cause I don't want this to end
Ignoring every phone call
You're bringing all of my walls down
Simply put: "Songs About It" is one sexy track that we find ourselves continuously coming back to.
Words by Softside Staff
In a stark comparison to "Songs About It" directly prior, "Beg U" is a bruised heartache.
I'll beg you for itAll the love that I needI'll beg you for it
While other tracks are drenched in euphoria and freedom, this one hits a more vulnerable feeling: desperation. It's a deep to-your-core feeling we as humans all feel at one point or another. The muffled vocals and painfully honest lyrics remind us how fragile we feel in these moments of yearning for love and validation.
The quick beat pulsing through the background threads the track to the rest of the dance-forward album, tying together a catchy, experimental rhythm despite the dark, moody themes being explored. We freaking love it.
Words by K. Monroe (she/her)
When Cub Sport released JATGB earlier in 2023, I had recently broken off a near year-long relationship with my partner at the time. As a longtime fan of the Australian indie-pop sensation, I was unsurprisingly obsessed with the album on first listen. But as I replayed the album over and over, one track called out to me like a balm on the post-break up heartbreak I was still nursing: "Hold," a song that recognizes the importance of hanging on to love, pure and unashamed, even when relationships come to an end.
Starting off with a dream-like, star twinkling beat, lead vocalist Tim Nelson wonders: “How many times does it take?” and later “Can we count all the ways a heart breaks?” interspersed with requests to his lover to “stay another hour” with him. When I first listened to"Hold" I was overcome by the lyrics that so directly paralleled my own thought process while I was battling the eventual end of my relationship.
Before I called it off, I would cycle through all our memories together and wonder if the good times were enough to outweigh the bad. For instance, Nelson sings in the pre-chorus,“And it's not too hard to walk away / And I'm thinking 'bout all the good love we made / But it's not enough to make me stay.” In a similar way, I had come to terms with the breakup weeks before we made it official. Although breakups are rarely easy, it was harder for me to stay, and yet I found myself purposely holding out – not because I hoped the flaws of our partnership would heal or disappear (because I knew that was impossible), but rather, I held on simply for the sake of doing so.
Of course, every relationship is different and I do not mean nor desire to speak for all. In my case, it was not a toxic, volatile relationship to be clear, but it was, however, a relationship past its prime. In the second verse we hear,“Like a star we’re crashing slowly/And we hold on hard.” The love I had for my partner had not vanished but rather had shifted slightly. I still wanted the best for them, while knowing we were not best for each other.
"Hold" is a song that encompasses all these emotions and more: it is an anthem to time running out, a relationship ending its course. It is an anthem to both the breaking and healing of hearts. It is an anthem for those who hold on to this time, who hold on to their love in whatever form it takes, desperately and unapologetically despite the inevitable.
But more than simply holding on to what we know we’ll soon let go, "Hold" offers an even more heartfelt message: love without remorse.
Backed by groovy, undeniably dance-worthy beats, contrasted with the melancholic, almost angsty lyrics of a relationship at the end of its rope but still hanging on, Cub Sport reminds us that just because something ends does not mean it was all for nothing.
We can’t only find worth in things that last forever because nothing is permanent. If we spend our lives regretting the relationships we’ve had, we’ll never fully enjoy the present. The singer recognizes the inevitability of his and his partner’s fate in the chorus,“Baby it’s hurting / Won’t you lay it on me / I already see it on your face…I’m just trying to hold it."
Even when love hurts, and even when relationships end, we can find comfort in knowing that love for the sake of love is something worth holding.
There are enough forces in the world that would try to break up lovers, especially queer, joyous, rebellious love. Whatever the reasons for the relationship coming to an end are secondary to the reason why we fight for that relationship regardless: out of stubbornness, or out of hope, but also simply for the reason we tried at all—out of pure love.
To love even when the world would rather sell hate. To love even when an audience would rather consume heartbreak. To love oneself and know that just because it’s over does not mean it was for nothing.
When tomorrow is never promised, one of the greatest sources of strength is to surrender to the moment and hold on to the love we share.
Words by Softside Staff
Well, hello Mallrat! We love the Brisbane collab.
There is so much beautiful softness in "Yaya.” A drifting, flowing openness in both production and storytelling, we particularly love the calamity of the song. There is a sensitivity in the lyrics but the vocals remain peaceful, almost like they are narrating a story of growth after the fact.
The dual, layered vocals are the cherry on top, bringing a powerful emphasis to every word shared.
Our favorite lyrics:
MAGIC IN U
Words by Raquel (she/her)
The song "Magic in U" comforts me. It makes me feel like it's ok not to be ok.
Sometimes we feel bad, things just don't go the way we hoped it would and it's all part of life.
This song reminds me that, even when I'm at my lowest, it's fine, I still have magic in me and the bad feeling is going to go away eventually. It also reminds me of the people in my life that help me see the magic in me when I'm unable to see it myself.
Besides the whole meaning of the song, the melody and the beat of the music is just amazing. Just listening to "Magic in U" makes me feel good and helps me get my energy back up when I'm down. I close my eyes and feel like I'm on a road trip watching the sunset and feeling like it's a good day and everything is going to be fine.