Hey everyone! It’s been awhile since New In Review has come around (I’ve been busy with finals/finishing up my sophomore year of college, oy), but I guarantee this one is worth the wait. The reason? Modern Baseball. Another reason? They’ve officially released Holy Ghost! It is the much anticipated follow-up to their last studio album You’re Gonna Miss It All (2014, my personal favorite MoBo release). Here’s a couple of fun facts before we get into the review:
1. As you all know, I usually do album reviews on first listen. This is the first album I listened to before I sat down to write this post. I just couldn’t help myself because I was really stoked on this album!
2. I’m really glad that they did not put any songs from the EP that they released last year (simply known as The Perfect Cast EP, which is also really good, so check it out, too). Sometimes you’ll see artists/bands make EPs that have songs that end up on the album, which makes it more like a sampler more than an EP. Thankfully, this was not the case for the Philadelphia indie punkers.
3. Since I’ve listened to this album already, I’ll give you guys some cool info: the album is technically split up into two parts. “How is this possible?” you may ask. It’s split right down the middle with the first half being songs written by Jake Ewald (co-lead vocals/guitar), and the second half being written by Brendan Lukens (co-lead vocals/guitar). I thought this was an interesting strategy because past releases have been split up pretty equally, this was a straight ahead approach that turned out to be really cool. That being said, I’ve typically preferred Bredan’s voice over Jake’s, but again, that’s just personal preference.
Now that that’s out of my system, on with the review! The intro track/title track is a beautiful little ditty with powerful lyrics and a simple, yet effective melody. Apparently, after watching the documentary that they made revolving around this album, the song is based on Jake’s grandfather and what he meant to him and his family as a stable force. When you think about it that way, it just makes the song more emotional. It makes you wonder what it would be like if it was longer! That song flows into track number 2, “Wedding Singer,” which is the third single that has been released. Of all the songs on “Side Jake,” this one is one of my favorite songs that he has sung lead on since “Broken Cash Machine,” on the last album. You can also notice one key thing about this one: it sets up the style of production of the entire record — solid, but not as polished as YGMIA. Killer bassline in the verses, as well. The next song is “Note To Self.” Speaking of bass, the lines in this song are amazing! It’s a little slower than the previous song, but the chorus is catchy as hell. Other than that, there’s not really much else too special about this song. Just the typical MoBo sound, but a little more refined in some parts. By the way, Jake gets a little screamy on this song near the end, and it’s SUPER killer!
“Mass” is the next track, which actually could be short for “Massachusetts.” This is probably my favorite track, as far as musicality goes. Poppy, but definitely feels very indie/punk/emo/whatever you wanna call it. Only caveat I find is that it needs to be longer! Next up is the first single released, “Everyday.” At first listen, I wasn’t too crazy over it, especially in the first verses; even though, Jake’s approach with falsetto vocals at times is cool. However, I will admit, this song does have a groove once you get into it. Again, killer bass licks are present in this song. It does, unfortunately, end on an abrupt note. Oh well. Jake’s half of the album concludes with the song “Hiding,” which is actually somewhat epic, to say the least. Starting off softly and acoustic, points of distortion creep up when you least expect it <hint, drums, hint>. It definitely sounds the most different on this side of the album, but it really does work. It is Jake’s sendoff to his side to give way to Brendan’s side. In terms of overall songwriting, this one is my favorite on “Side Jake.”
“Side Brendan” starts with the somewhat namesake song “Coding These To Lukens.” In a short description, it starts off interestingly, but by the second half, Brendan comes out of his angry shell and rocks hard! “Breathing In Stereo” follows, and the rocking doesn’t stop at all on this song. This is probably the heaviest song on the album, and the guitars are at their most distorted and punk sounding. Even though there’s a sudden slowing down near the end, the emotion is still there, and the song picks back up for the last 10 seconds. Track 9 is “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind.” Honestly, also at first listen, I couldn’t really get into the beat. It sounded a little, dare I say, U2-ish. Which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a little too left field for my MoBo taste. Now I know, that there is probably a deeper meaning behind the song, which is fine because it’s a pretty chill song, it’s just not my favorite.
“What If…” is the penultimate song on the album, starting off as a continuation of “Apple Cider.” Honestly, the song sounds like fragments of “Apple Cider,” but making it sound better. I do predict that when they play “Apple Cider” live, no doubt that “What If…” will be played in succession, as if it was one track. The concluding song on the album, “Just Another Face,” packs a big mid-tempo, alt-rock punch. Like “Hiding” on “Side Jake,” it is the other most epic sounding song on the record. It punches you right in the gut, but in a different way than “Hiding.” It feels more of a heavier punch, which is for sure a great thing in my book. It is also probably the most emotional sounding song lyrically of the Brendan songs.
Honestly, props to the guys in MoBo for writing a solid follow up to a record that actually got me more into the band. There are a few flaws though. First, the album is now officially the shortest of their catalog, which is great in some respects, but in this case, it brings me to the next flaw; some of the songs sound way too short and abrupt <hint, “Everyday,” hint>. Even though there are some killer songs on this album, there are tunes that feel like, not really duds, but what I like to call “songs that could have been.” I will say this though, if you have been a fan since either the beginning til about 2014, you will really like this album. Hmm, now that I think about it, if you replace some of the songs on Holy Ghost with songs from The Perfect Cast EP, it would make for one hell of an album. Again, oh well. No matter what, my love for this band will not die. Keep it up!
Standout tracks: “Breathing In Stereo,” “Hiding,” “Just Another Face,” “Wedding Singer,” “Mass”