WORDS BY THOMAS FREEMAN
Brisbane indie-rock legends ‘Ball Park Music‘ have continued their string of wonderful albums with their latest self-titled LP ‘Ball Park Music’. Quickly becoming one of Australia’s favourite bands all throughout the 2010’s, their music has constantly made Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdowns and Triple J’s Album Poll’s too, as well as racking up several award nominations over the many years too. This is album number six from the five-piece band, and unlike a lot of other bands who would start to lose the quality in their music at this stage in their career, Ball Park Music are releasing music that is not only as consistently great as their other 5 LP’s, but also perfectly recaptures the best elements of those albums and also does something more personal and independent as well, making for what is honestly one of the best albums of 2020.
The first half of the album is fun, with the single ‘Spark Up’ opening up the album with an infectious rhythm from the percussions, synths and bass. I wasn’t hugely fussed on the song when it was first released, but it did grow on me very quickly with its catchy beat. It definitely starts off the LP with a bang. Similar to 2018’s ‘The End Times’, it perfectly captures the tone of the whole album, with the groovy sounds that the band produces. The keys here are very unpredictably wild, making for one of the tracks best aspects, as well as this, the vocals have a nice dreamy sound to them.
‘Head Like A Sieve’ follows it up with another extremely fun song. It reminds me a lot of 2018’s ‘Hands Off My Body’ and 2010’s ‘Sad Rude Future Dude’ in the vocals and lyrics, and instrumentally it’s one of the most impressive from the album. The drums really bring the track to life, whilst the lead guitar drive the track into a whole new dimension with its fuzzy riff, all coming to a finale that can really only be described as truly wonderful. It’s songs like this that really show why Ball Park Music have been so popular for such a long time.
‘Nothing Ever Goes My Way’ starts off with one of the funkiest sounding drum beats on the album. Production wise, it sounds super unique from the band; with an epic hook that is filled with huge amounts of delay and reverb. Ball Park Music really show off their chaotic energy with this track, especially in the climax about halfway through, and then it slows down and introduces some piano into the mix, and it somehow works so well, not just for the song, but for the whole album, as it really is a rather colourful and personality filled banger. It’s a song that is also driven just as much through the sometimes-melancholic lyrics, and the contrast between them and the instrumentals is pretty hectic, making for one of the best songs off the album.
The transition into ‘I Feel Nothing’ really keeps the sombre tone in the lyrics flowing really smoothly. Instrumentally, it almost sounds like something from 2016’s ‘Every Night the Same Dream’, with that it’s one of the more classic Ball Park Music rock songs. Because it is less chaotic in the production, listeners can really hear more of Sam Cromack’s raw vocals, making the hooks even more impactful. The joint harmonies in the bridge are a really nice blend of happy/sad, and towards the very end, the listener can really start to hear the passionate vocals belting through the speakers, with the keys tying it all together.
‘Bedroom’ is a catchy song with its fuzzy instrumentals and a chorus that is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for a week. The biggest highlight of the track is when Sam just screams out: “I NEED TO GET OUT; I NEED TO GET OUT OF MY BEDROOM!”
‘Katkit’ is the shortest track here, and it’s really just an intermission to separate the fun and instrumentally filled first half from the more lyrically driven and slower songs in the second half. The transition into the song is seamless and I do like the synths and the sci-fi tone to the track. Being more of an intermission track, it does its job of opening up the second half of the album nicely, even if there isn’t much to say about ‘Katkit’ as a whole.
The title alone for ‘Bad Taste Blues (Part III’)’ is enough to get fans of 2012’s LP ‘Museum’ excited, and it also helps that it is one of the standout tracks too. This is also the track where the songs do slow down and become less chaotic than in the first half. Lyrically, it really does a great job of recapturing those ‘Museum’ vibes, especially with the dreamy vocals and beautiful harmonies created by Sam and Jen.
‘Cherub’, the most recent single that dropped before the album, is not only one of the best songs from the album, but it’s also probably the most personal in the lyrics too. It’s a beautiful and gorgeous song from start to finish. Being the longest song on the album, the track is perfectly structured and spends it time building up to a big climax at the end, with the big deep guitars and colossal drums to close out the last minute or so, resulting in another big highlight on the album. It also boasts one of the most emotional choruses on the album, making ‘Cherub’ a song that’ll stir up the crowd’s emotions at their future gigs
‘Obit’ really stands out too with its distorted and effects-filled vocals. Looking at the production, Obit gives off a massive 70’s rock sound to it, or even something from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s 2014 LP ‘Oddments’. The bass riff is pretty funky I also really like the build-up into the chorus, which almost reminds me of an upbeat version of the Gang of Youths track ‘Kansas’. The chorus is both minimal yet captures the happy/sad tone of the song, definitely making for one of the tracks best parts.
The second single and possibly the best song on the album is ‘Day & Age’. Lyrically, it’s one of the most poetic songs here, and the bridge is one of the most effective coming from the band, drawing out the song with the repeated phrase:
It’s one of the dreamiest cuts from the LP with the lilting guitars and melodies, making for another angelic song on the album, similar to ‘Cherub’. The hazy vocals are a real treat for the ears, as it feels like a soothing lullaby for the listener. It’s also one of the more optimistic songs on the album, contrasting brilliantly with other fantastic songs like ‘Nothing Ever Goes My Way’ and ‘I Feel Nothing’.
The album closes with ‘Turning Zero’, one of the most minimal and mature sounding songs on the record. Much like the rest of the second half of the album, it’s filled with some peaceful instrumentals and relaxing lyrics. The acoustic guitar intro and double-tracked vocals make for a really great introduction, and once the drums come in, it strangely reminded me of the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard song ‘Work This Time’. The contrast between ‘Turning Zero’ and the opener ‘Spark Up’ really shows how well constructed this album is, but also diverse Ball Park Music can get when it comes to creating music. It’s a solid closing track that ultimately feels reflective of the personal tone of the album.
There aren’t many bands that have made six consecutively great albums in recent years, but Ball Park Music have certainly just showed us that they can with this album. With fresh sounding songs, unique production, a fun energy that’ll translate strongly into a live show, elements of why we fell in love with their previous work, and lyrics that make up what is ultimately their most personal album yet- it’s undoubtably one of the best albums from 2020.