Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost (Run For Cover)

Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost (Run For Cover)

Holy Ghost is the third album by Philadelphia Indie Rock band Modern Baseball, and maybe it’s just the title, but there are similarities to be drawn to another American Indie Rock band of recent years’ third album, in GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost.

Both are albums by bands that, although always sincere and emotive, seemed to forever be destined for cult status, rather than ever pushing grand stages because of their quirkiness prior to each of their third albums. Like Girls’ on their third effort, Modern Baseball step it up here without losing their charm.

Holy Ghost is the first album not to be recorded by solely the band themselves, having enlisted producer Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Joyce Manor). This is telling, as the whole album sounds structured, cohesive and pointed – coming in at a non-exhaustive 28 minutes.

How cohesive this albums feels sound-wise and thematically is particularly interesting given the ordering, with co-songwriters Jacob Ewald and Brendan Lukens taking half the record each – the first six songs by Ewald, and the last five by Lukens.

Despite this, they cover similar ground, with lots of references to the distance created by touring. They toured last album You’re Gonna Miss It All heavily, and the references to “1000 miles” on ‘Note To Self‘ and “2000 miles” on ‘Breathing In Stereo‘ are probably quite accurate rather than hyperbole.

The adjustment of being in a regularly touring band with a cult following is dealt with, as Ewald is almost Rivers Cuomo circa Pinkerton: the minor Indie Rock star whilst still in college, saying “Sometimes I wish it was still last summer and you were still living in South Philly / And I wasn’t playing shows in Nebraska, or lost in Texas, or asking the kids what they ate for breakfast” on the song ‘Mass‘, in a rare foray into the spoken-word that’s been prevalent in their previous albums, adding urgency to this song.

It”s a sign of the band growing up – there are still quirks to their songwriting, like on ‘Everyday‘, as the melody climbs to match the lyric “The waiter asked, if you were high”. It’s the economical placement of these quirks which shows their songwriting prowess, as well as the way in which the band change songs rhythmically to create dynamic without the cheap ‘loud, quiet, loud’ technique.

How polished an album it sounds especially in comparison to their first album, Sports, with each guitar tone sounding full and dense, is particularly pertinent to the weighty subject matter.

Prior to the recording of the album, having cancelled shows, Lukens checked himself into a treatment programme for his mental health, and was essentially saved by his friends in his band – the inspiration behind the anthemic closer ‘Just Another Face’.

The song is the perfect summation of Modern Baseball; a hefty subject dealt with melodic self deprecation and a hook that a room full of people can both relate and sing-a-long to with a deeply endearing band.

Holy Ghost is released on 13th May through Run For Cover

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