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New Music: Modern Baseball

By Jason Herring, June 2 2016 —

Philadelphia emo four-piece Modern Baseball return with their third album Holy Ghost, a follow-up to 2014’s unexceptional You’re Gonna Miss It All. The band’s latest effort shows a major leap in songwriting with a record full of infectious tracks.Jason_ModernBaseball_HolyGhost

The title track provides a low-key start to Holy Ghost as frontman Brendan Lukens lazily picks an acoustic guitar over wistful lyrics. Guitar feedback builds up towards the end of the first track before the album launches into the explosive “Wedding Singer.” The lead-in works well, creating tension before releasing it in a burst of energy.

This undeniable energy is Modern Baseball’s strong suit, and Holy Ghost is at its best when the band keeps up their unrelenting pace, like on album highlight “Mass.” The song is a typical love letter to touring the American midwest, but the track’s torrid guitar riffs and clever stream-of-consciousness lyrics demand attention.

The album’s slower tracks are a lot less captivating, with the band’s weak vocals and occasionally ridiculous lyricism much more noticeable. The biggest culprit is “Hiding,” a song whose extended acoustic intro contains lyrics like “I made mistakes, my plants died young, like all good things.”

For the most part, though, Holy Ghost’s lyrics are clever and charming, usually taking on a conversational tone that jumps from topic to topic freely. The band also dips into the classic emo trope of self-deprecating lyrics, with lines like “I’m a waste of time and space,” repeated throughout closer “Just Another Face.”

Other solid tracks include “Note to Self,” which contains the album’s catchiest riff, and “What If…,” a song most reminiscent of seminal emo band The Get Up Kids. There are few other songs of note on the record, but Holy Ghost’s mediocre cuts don’t overstay their welcome, with no song on the album running over four minutes.

A lot of contemporary emo bands are releasing innovative, challenging music. Modern Baseball isn’t one of them, but Holy Ghost is still an impressive record worth a listen.


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