On April 4, 2016, Modern Baseball released their documentary Tripping In the Dark, a 17-minute short film going over the past, present and near future of their band ; to fully understand and appreciate their new release ‘Holy Ghost’, we strongly suggest that you watch it.
Paired with said documentary, pressing play on ‘Holy Ghost’ already feels like home. The record opens with the title track, starting Jake Ewald’s half of the album, which is split between him and co-vocalist Brendan Lukens— much like the aforementioned documentary.
And as mentioned in it, Ewald’s side of the release is a reflection on life, change, and baring your soul about family, loss, and relationships. “What [we’re] really hoping is that, with opening our personal lives to so many people, that our fans can open up to people in their lives,” says Lukens in Tripping In The Dark. Even if Modern Baseball’s witty lyrics have always been personal, this release goes deeper, below the surface : like when you stop joking about your problems and what’s bothering you, and finally talk about them seriously, even if it’s hard. The band adds, “We started Modern Baseball to be our journals and we feel, now, with ‘Holy Ghost’ we’ve written our most honest songs to date.”
Much like their fellow Philly residents The Wonder Years, on this record, a lot of the songs feature very specific locations and situations, which somehow adds to how relatable this new material is ; even if you’ve never been in a touring band and passed through the same places Ewald sings about on fourth track Mass, who’s never missed the person they love, platonically or romantically, and wished they were here with you? This record sees Modern Baseball calculating and taking their whole driving force, and their talent, polishing it (but not going generic and feelingless, don’t get me wrong) and putting it all into place, and as you get deeper into ‘Holy Ghost’, it becomes bloody crystal clear that not only is this album of the year material, it’s their best yet.
Side A fades into Side B on seventh track Coding These To Lukens, kicking off the beginning of Lukens’ half of ‘Holy Ghost’ ; into faster, angrier songs. The emotional Breathing In Stereo tackles change, and accepting it ; “I’m not the same as I was, but that’s cool, whatever” is a progression from when Modern Baseball were singing about being “paralysed by change, but scared to death that you might stay the same”, on last year’s ‘The Perfect Cast..’ EP.
For me, the album peaks at three different moments : second track Wedding Singer (which was released with a perfect Scott Pilgrim-esque music video, but I digress), the huge Apple Cider I Don’t Mind, and the last track Just Another Face which is a perfectly ripe cherry on top of a bloody perfect cake.
Just Another Face is the longest song on this overall (too) short record, and the cathartic power of its chorus will probably hit you like a train the first time you listen to it. This one track embodies Modern Baseball as a whole ; brutal honesty, and everyone sticking together even through hardships.
This record isn’t about complacency ; it’s about trying to keep moving forward and we’ll be with Modern Baseball the whole way.
You can stream ‘Holy Ghost’ over at bandcamp.
Modern Baseball – ‘Holy Ghost’
Released May 13th via Run For Cover records.