23rd June, 2022
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Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better: Weirder & Weirder by Ball Park Music

Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better: Weirder & Weirder by Ball Park Music

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series:
Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better

I could talk for weeks even about my honest to god, unshakable love and adoration for the five-piece indie rock Brisbane-based extraordinaire that is Ball Park Music. Their 2020 self-titled record was the one that finally kick-started me into wanting to write album reviews here and there. As mentioned in that review, Ball Park Music has had my heart in a death grip since my wide-eyed pre-pubescent self heard “It’s Nice To Be Alive”. Their music has continued to be a great source of comfort and pleasure for me. So, it’s entirely unsurprising that I’m here today, almost three weeks since the release of their 7th studio album, to review the masterpiece that is “Weirder & Weirder”.

This album is the perfect follow up to their last and the perfect addition to their body of work. It’s colourful (literally and sonically), nostalgic yet inventive, and overall I think the world is a better place with this album in it. I have the absolutely mind-blowing opportunity to watch Ball Park Music play the Unibar next week, so it’d be rude not to write a review.

Tracklist:
1. Manny

This song is a tremendous pump-up first song for an album. It’s the third single released from this album, and it’s reportedly about “spending your life working and how you’re free from all the hardship of working when you finally die.” That explanation reminds me of The Wombats album released earlier this year. There’s a point in this song where the singer (the ever illustrious Sam Cromack) rolls his ‘r’ while singing the words’ per cent’, which brought me immense joy.

In the soil
Put your feet in the soil
Fill a saucepan with water
And bring it to boil

2. Pleb Rock

I love this one beyond explanation. According to a contributor on Genius Lyrics, Pleb Rock is a song about the charms of being an ordinary person. As a testament to that sentiment – ‘no juice’ is my favourite lyric from the entire album, and I felt that in my heart of hearts.

In terms of production, the smooth, cinematic build of the song is somewhat reminiscent of songs from their record “GOOD MOOD”. Namely, it reminds me of ‘Frank’.

What I like about Ball Park is lyrically their songs are such a mix of random ordinary phrases and deeply philosophical one liners. It means that every song is up for interpretation, and they might mean something different the next time you hear it. This song is so incredibly clever in alluding to the band’s past work and tracks to come on this record. They blatantly name-drop ‘Day & Age’ and “A Feild To Break Your Back In”, and it would have almost fit in on their last record in terms of theme. The alien-abduction sounding outro of this song means that it’d make perfect sense for the next song to be ‘A Feild To Break Your Back In’, but it’s simply not. I think that’s funny, for some reason.

Well, it’s hard like the morning after, no juice
I’m always laughing out loud by myself
I’m just a pleb like you
It’s a yuck life
It’s dirty dishes
It’s bad brains, all superstitious and wild
On the run
I’m just a pleb like you

3. Stars In My Eyes

This one feels like a post-lockdown song. It’s comforting, nostalgic, hopeful but defeated. It’s the ‘Day & Age’ of this record. The counting you hear in the bridge is a recording of Sam’s daughter’s voice. That seems fitting, considering how strongly this song alludes to the idea of childhood. Later in the song, there’s a beautiful beat change and a children’s chorus followed by some good old Ball Park style electronic scampering.

There was a place that I used to go
There was a girl that I loved who lived there
This was a long time ago
I don’t want for much these days
I float along on a steady wave
I’ve got a long way to go

4. Right Now

It’s a little bit country-sounding at the beginning, and BPM knows how to make a stellar pump-up track with a steady beat and vocal build. There’s a nod to Midnight Oil in the first verse, and the track as a whole feels like it rings true to their earlier records. You can definitely hear influence from The Beatles throughout this record, but I think this song especially.

My idea of a good time’s night time
Burning the midnight oil CD’s
There in the distance, all my thoughts
Come rushing back to me
Terrorising right now

5. Caramel

I knew this would be my favourite song on this album the first time I heard it. You had me at “there’s only so much you can do in a day”. In fact, you had me at the first line, which nods to the rather disappointing fact that rainbow paddle pops are low-key caramel flavoured. It’s a very comforting track; it gives me the same feeling as Billy Joel’s Vienna. Lyrically, it resonates an unbelievable amount, and sonically, it feels like a firm pat on the back. The strings that come in closer to the end are more reason to love this song. I also love a little self-insert lyric.

I’ve heard people say
“Sam, did you know rainbow is only caramel?”
Why the fuck you say such things?
Don’t you know that we are already here in hell?

6. A Field To Break Your Back In

This is your classic BPM alien abduction electronic rock track. Does it make any sense on paper? Not really. But does it sound incredible? Of course. This could be in a weird ironic indie action movie. If Scott Pilgrim vs The World were made today, this would be on the soundtrack.

It’s bittersweet, so naive
Waking the dying day to feel a sense of achievement

7. Weirder & Weirder

Even this opening riff to this track is instantly relaxing. I could meditate when this song comes on. It sounds like a swim at the end of a hard day. It’s the title track, which I find to be lacklustre on most records. Not this time. I don’t have the time in the day to list everything I love about this song. Please, for the love of God and Sam Cromack, just listen to it.

When my mama was young
They put a bun in the oven
That was me, that was me
I am the bun, baby
Now my mind is a casserole
Every year they add one more thing

8. Sunscreen

I’m going to be honest when this song was first dropped as a single last year. I didn’t love it. In hindsight, that was my aversion to change talking. It makes sense for this record. The line “when I first got home, I would just sit there in my car” stuck out to me as a close runner-up favourite lyric. Throughout lockdown last year, I’d come home from my essential worker job and sit in my car for probably an hour on average, just because it was a reason not to be inside. This song reminds me of the 2021 lockdown for that reason. It makes sense, given this song is about accepting that sometimes life is going to be a bit shit.

At first, the water was warm
But it went so cold, so fast
And when I first got home
I would just sit there in my car
Both my eyes go through the windscreen
Over the people covered in sunscreen
No one wants to say it
But there’s no way to get away from this

9. Writing Hand

This is one of my favourites, partly because of my left-handed tendencies, partly because it’s just a fantastic song. It starts quite calm, but the kickup halfway through is, in a word, visceral. I think I compared “Nothing Ever Goes My Way” to a beautiful tantrum in my last Ball Park review. This song is another in a series of that theme.

I heard they cut off your writing hand
That’s what they do
To people like you
And I’m afraid that there’ll be no change
That things will stay
Exactly the same

10. Beautiful Blueberries

To me, this is a song about putting yourself first. According to Genius Lyrics, this is a song about some guy named Chris McCandless – who abandoned his family and riches to wander around the Alaskan bush – his last diary entry before dying simply read “beautiful blueberries”. Both could be true. Either way, it’s a great song.

Now that you come unstuck
And I wish you the best of luck
But you can not rely on me
And I know that you hate that
But I’m right where I need to be right now

11. The Present Moment

I just want to point out the melody in the opening riff. It reminds me of the chorus of ‘Blushing’, a song from BPM’s 2016 record “Every Night the Same Dream”. I appreciate that it’s an uplifting song towards the end of this album. I adore the change in rhythm about halfway through – it deepens and darkens and then comes light again in the end. I like how the meaning of the song was built into its structure. This track has a very potent classy cinematic outro, which is incredible. It’d make a great final track if the Three Little Words didn’t make so much sense in that place.

I poke my head in shops
I pick up garments, baby
But I don’t know what I wanna wear
‘Cuz I’m as lost as you are
I’m as soft as you are
I’ve still got no idea

12. Three Little Words

I like this one; it feels casual. I could dance to it (I probably will, actually, come next week). It’s very feel-good, and I love it. The lyrics below really grabbed me the first time I heard this song.

It’s written on a bathroom stall
It said “greatness is just goodness”
Over and over, and over, and over
And over and over, and over, and over
And over and over, and over, and over
And over again

Track Ranking:
  1. Caramel
  2. Pleb Rock
  3. Weirder & Weirder
  4. Writing Hand
  5. Beautiful Blueberries
  6. Stars In My Eyes
  7. Sunscreen
  8. Three Little Words
  9. The Present Moment
  10. Right Now
  11. A Field To Break Your Back In
  12. Manny

“Lol they really… hit it out of the Ball Park with this one,”

Tyneesha Williams

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