Modern Baseball – ‘Holy Ghost’ Review

Posted: by Morgan

After singing about Twitter and Instagram and having the spins, Modern Baseball’s new album, Holy Ghost, makes their catchiness and appeal undeniable to even the previously most stringent dissenter. Released on May 13, Jake Ewald’s declaration that “there will be no more fucking around today,” on ‘Note To Self’ surmises the growth and maturity that defines the band’s third full-length.

Ewald wrote half the record and as discussed in many interviews, the foundation of much of his effort comes from the death of his grandfather. The grief and frustration of this intimate loss permeates in the spry and driving ‘Wedding Singer’ and acoustic aching of ‘Hiding’. Even the romantic-centric songs feel a little bit heavier. Though the quick rhythm of ‘Mass’ energizes Ewald’s half, the attempted protest against the difficulties of a long-distance relationship still feels more sophisticated than the band’s earlier work.

 The change from Side A to Brendan Lukens’ Side B is utterly obvious with heavier hitting choruses and breakneck pace. Lukens wrote his half of the record in the studio  after entering a rehabilitation program following a near suicide attempt (I strongly encourage you to watch the documentary on the making of the album for more details). This side oscillates between sharp self-criticism and an optimistic fight exemplified in the superb closing one-two punch of ‘What If…’ and ‘Just Another Face.’

There’s a clear dichotomy within the album that at first feels a bit confusing since both halves would’ve been very capable of standing on their own as EPs or as parts to two separate full-lengths. Together, however, Lukens’ and Ewald’s separate experiences of overcoming build a cohesive thematic tapestry woven together by channeling their youthful energy through deeply personal introspection that makes their stories of personal loss and mental illness universal.

Holy Ghost is undeniably different than MoBo’s other releases, but this progression feels natural and necessary. What began on The Perfect Cast EP culminates in the seriousness and admirable of this new full-length. The shedding of the previously described “folk-punk” element of the band’s sound should make it accessible to an even larger audience and I doubt any long-term fans will be anything less than ecstatic.

This is a record that audiences will be excited to mull over in the coming summer months. While it’s a certainly one of the best albums of 2016 on the first few listens, Holy Ghost has something that makes each new go-around a genuinely rewarding listening experience with new gems and standouts each time.