Cub Sport’s fifth studio album “Jesus at the Gay Bar” is long-awaited for many fans, and for the band itself, it’s a triumph. The Australian pop group formed in 2010 and is currently composed of multi-instrumentalist Zoe Davis, lead vocalist Tim Nelson, keyboardist Sam Netterfield and drummer Dan Puusaari.
Nelson and Netterfield have been married for nearly five years. For the couple, this album was an opportunity to open up about the struggles they faced in their early days; Nelson in particular spoke to how the album helped heal religious trauma.
“I grew up in a very religious world and spent years praying that God would heal me from being gay,” he said via Instagram. “(The album) kind of feels like a celebration of the point I’ve gotten to so far.”
The band initially announced the album in January 2023, releasing four singles and three music videos as fans awaited the record, which was finally released on April 7 — Good Friday. The record also includes two features from Shamir and Mallrat. The album’s name is a reference to a poem by Jay Hulme and speaks on Nelson’s religious background and the role it played in his coming out.
A successful release, the record debuted at number one on the ARIA album chart and the Australian album chart, a huge milestone for the band and their highest chart position for any of their albums thus far.
The album opens with “Always Got The Love,” a catchy clubbing track and the record’s first single. Hidden underneath the fast-paced bass and pitched-up vocals are unexpectedly beautiful lyrics: “I was lying when I said / I can't love you anymore.” The accompanying music video depicts Nelson dancing in a gay club before riding off with Netterfield on a motorcycle.
Possibly my favorite music video accompanied the second single “Replay,” an electrifying and euphoric track with conflicted lyrics: “I miss it / But I don't want it back.” In the video, Nelson repeatedly attempts to follow Netterfield, waking up from the chase like a dream until catching up to him and embracing on the beach.
The album’s third single, “Keep Me Safe,” is a personal favorite of mine. Lyrics recount Nelson’s coming out journey, recalling the moments after he and Netterfield first got together and their subsequent split caused by the secrecy surrounding Nelson’s sexuality; he eventually came out in 2017. It’s romantic, fast-paced and a perfect summation of the fear and shame that come with hiding such a core aspect of one’s identity.
Along with the personal vulnerability on Nelson’s part, the entire album feels intimate — but the kind of intimacy a couple can share on the dance floor in a crowded club. Like much of the music that has come out of the past few years, “Jesus at the Gay Bar” is a dance album. But in contrast to the confidence of Beyoncé’s “Rennaissance” and the ego of Drake’s “Honestly, Nevermind,” Cub Sport’s album is a vulnerable reflection on a decade-long love story. It’s personal, raw and will resonate with anyone who knows what it is to love someone.