Philadelphia’s emo pop foursome Modern Baseball’s third album is a raw brand of split LP with a compelling, in-house approach; the first half is written by Jake Ewald and the second by Brendan Lukes. The album as one piece proves to have a maturing nature, featuring a multitude of both familiar and unexplored themes.
‘Holy Ghost’ opens with the album teaser, a brief humble song performed acoustically and written about the loss and absence of Ewald’s religious grandfather. Single, ‘The Wedding Singer’ has a fun, bouncy rhythm and chiming riffs despite the not-so-fun narrative essence.
‘Note To Self’ is the winner on Side Jake for its lucid authenticity; the lyric “Counting numbered days from the wheel we cried to clutch / Looking for some inspired land / But all I found were empty cans and cigarette butts / Lining dirty parking lots in Ottawa,” articulates a difficulty to enjoy touring owing to the great apathy permeating the track. Through the second half vocals are performed powerfully with deep emotion; a new – and impressive – step for MoBo. ‘Mass’ is a concise, addictive number about missing someone afar; it has many specific references that allow the listener to feel both foreign to the subject, but likewise – ironically – able to relate to the long-distance struggle.
Side Bren filters a more thrashing, angsty vibe. ‘Coding These to Lukens’ has intricate riffs and clean harmonies that express Lukens’ anxiety of what his peers think of him. ‘Breathing In Stereo’ has similar themes to Ewald’s half in that it laments missing someone and being on the road.
The single ‘Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind’ echoes familiarity of ‘Sports’ in its message but is written far more cryptically with poetic and rhetoric lyrics. Vocals are less clear-cut than previous releases, allowing an appreciation for each component in a track and giving a fuller sound to the album’s entirety.
The word “mature” can have negative connotations in this scene; ‘Holy Ghost’ proves this to be unnecessary. A noble product of skilful dual-songwriting.
’Holy Ghost’ by Modern Baseball is released on May 13th on Big Scary Monsters (UK) and Run For Cover Records (US).
Words by Lucy Jones (@loo_say9)