If you were to make a list of artists to compose so-called “jock jams” — those ubiquitous anthems that spice up the promos and highlight reels for your favorite athletic spectacles — I sincerely doubt that The Declining Winter would be on there, not even in the bottom position. Their mopey, pastoral music isn’t exactly the sort that conjures up feelings of athletic victory and virtuosity. On the other hand, if you’re looking for music to listen to whilst crying into your pint after your team has been trounced in the finals, then they make better sense.
Which is to say that the thought of Richard Adams and Co. composing a theme for the world’s biggest sporting event strikes one as a wee bit absurd. But therein lies the charm. Musically and lyrically, “Official World Cup Theme 2010” doesn’t deviate at all from the aesthetic that the band has employed throughout its career. It may be more chipper and upbeat, but only by a smidge. The lyrics still display a penchant for nostalgic musings even as they celebrate the summer’s warmth, and the music, with its blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation, is quite enchanting. And the sample that closes out the song, of what I assume is some famous soccer match of yore — sorry fellows, I barely know anything about American football, much less the real deal — is apropos.
The disc ends with an instrumental version of the theme, and sandwiched between is “Red Kite,” a slightly more downbeat number where stabs of violin jut out from lazily plucked guitars and scattered drumming. It’s the sort of lethargically haunting music that The Declining Winter do so very well, music that may seem boring and uneventful on paper, but that nevertheless draws the listener in with its sublime details and evocative mood.