Cassie Wilson for Sick Snaps
Modern Baseball’s new full-length, Holy Ghost, officially came out on Friday, but since the band began streaming the album on May 9th, they’ve been receiving a tremendous amount of positive feedback, including from The New York Times.
Modern Baseball caught my attention with the album’s two singles, “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind” and “Everyday.” Lately, it takes something truly special for an album to stick with me beyond my first listen, and then I’ll usually go to a show to fully figure out how I feel about the artist. It’s been a long time since I’ve been astounded by a record, the way that I was during my first time listening toHoly Ghost.
All I knew going into my first listen was that Jake Ewald wrote the lyrics for the first half of the record, and Brendan Lukens wrote for the other half. Holy Ghost starts off with a short, primarily acoustic, song that brings in hints of the full band sound at the end to transition into the second track, “Wedding Singer.” There is more to be uncovered with every listen to this second tune, whether it be that distinct lead guitar riff that shines between verses, or other less dominant sounds that add to the energetic vibe of this song.
The third track, “Note To Self,” is what sold me on this album and this band. Roughly 45 seconds in, I had to hit pause to process how pleasingly they wrote a specific 10 seconds of this song. It goes from full band to just guitar and vocals during the line, ‘But all I found were empty cans and cigarette butts lining dirty parking lots in Ottawa.’ The way that those lyrics flow with minimal instruments supporting them caught me off guard, and made my attachment to this album blossom.
Two and a half songs into Holy Ghost and I started telling my friends that they needed to listen to this record. Prior to my first listening, I saw many people admiring the specificity in Modern Baseball’s lyrics which I found to be especially true with “Mass.” There are so many specific references in this song that I could visualize the narrative behind the words, rather than trying to relate my life to a general concept like with most music. This actually makes it even easier to relate to because Ewald’s particularity increases the understanding between the listener and his own experiences. It’s comforting to listen to a song as detailed as “Mass” because it feels more tangible.
“Hiding” showcases soothing acoustic guitar and, again, how pleasantly their lyrics flow. Similar to “Holy Ghost,” drums and electric guitar slowly push past the acoustic guitar to finish off the end of “Hiding.”
In an interview that Modern Baseball did with The Bandcamp Blog, Lukens talks about how both him and Ewald sonically shaped their halves of the album to fit the mood behind their lyrics. Ewald’s half is a bit more reserved while Lukens’ is more intense.
I heard that slight difference best in Lukens’ “Breathing In Stereo.” If I hadn’t read that interview, then I probably wouldn’t have realized this unique element in Holy Ghost.
Listening to “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind” in the context of the album certainly shows why it was a single because it’s catchy and makes me want to dance.
In less than half an hour, Holy Ghost comes to an end with one of my favorites, “Just Another Face.” It effortlessly ties together the sound of the entire record, so if you need more convincing to listen to Holy Ghost, you could start with that track.
This album is one that I didn’t know I needed, or wanted, but allowed me to find new things to love about music. Holy Ghost earned a special place in my heart from my first listen, and will without a doubt be one of my most listened to records of 2016.