Brisbros Ball Park Music have attempted to inject some sun (both literally and figuratively, the cover is a giant sun) into 2020 with their self-titled sixth studio album.
The band get all their spiky, provocateur material out early on with the three-point punch of ‘Nothing Ever Goes My Way’, ‘I Feel Nothing’ and ‘Bedroom’. While I’m not sure if they were directly influenced by the crap-shack of a situation the world has found itself into they sum up the sentiment quite well.
The former two tracks enunciate the moods that many people will have been oscillating between during this most disheartening of years – I feel too much and I feel nothing at all. It almost brings a small comfort to hear Sam Cromack screech about how he feels so intensely and at the same time not at all on a familiar backdrop of fuzzy guitars and sombre horns.
‘Bedroom’ is just about being stuck in your bedroom, something all-too-relatable right now. The undeniable heart of the album is ‘Cherub’, a five-minute sonic sister song to ‘Alligator’, the closer off their debut record. Listening to both back to back reveals the evolution that BPM has gone through since 2011.
Whereas ‘Alligator’s building cacophony of sounds threatened to overwhelm and consume the band, ‘Cherub’s climax feels firmly in control of Sam Cromack and co. In the last two minutes of ‘Cherub’, the twinkling plucked guitar is replaced by well… imagine an orchestra but mostly made up of guitars and percussion. It’s big but it remands grounded thanks to Cromack’s consistent whistle-note melody.
This isn’t the only time the band looks back to move forward. Long-time fans are finally treated to the last (?) instalment in the ‘Bad Taste Blues’ trilogy. While aurally the track has little to do with its title mates from BPM’s sophomore release ‘Museum’, idealistically it feels the same. An insanely catchy pre-chorus riff and bassist Jen Boyce’s golden harmonies shine though magnificently, making it a worthy entry into the series.
Ball Park Music sometimes toes the line between down-to-earth and obnoxious and unfortunately ‘Orbit 2020’ falls into the latter category. Between a hook that sounds like a sample of The Who’s ‘Who Are You’ and a relentless drilling guitar line – it’s a track the album could have done without.
However, they bring it back with closing track ‘Turning Zero’. It’s just a calm acoustic guitar, simple scratch percussion and Cromack and Boyce’s faultless harmonies.
In an album where that seemed like a show-and-tell for how far they’ve come, the knowledge to treat the listener with such a sweet, ethereal track last shows real growth. It’s interesting that Ball Park Music’s new self-titled album’s artwork resembles a smiling, sunny side up fried egg because it’s a pretty good way to define their signature sound.
Ball Park’s music crackles and spits like fat in a pan, frenetic and fierce right until someone breaks the yolk of soft and velvety sentimentality that imbibes so much of the band’s best back catalogue tunes.
Their sixth studio album isn’t reinventing any wheels but, by gum, it gives them a good grease.