By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
The music of Modern Baseball has always been part therapeutic, part cathartic. The emo rockers, hailing from Philly, have repeatedly fought their inner demons numerous times over their discography that has spanned three albums, possibly one of the finest album trilogies in this century. With the band now on hiatus while Brendan Lukens deals with his personal turmoil, now seems an apt time to look back at the band’s music contributions and determine the best of the bunch.
10. Wedding Singer
The second track off their latest LP Holy Ghost, Wedding Singer finds itself in a unique position of being one of the band’s most upbeat songs both instrumentally and lyrically. Appearing on the first half of the record, written by Jake Ewald, we hear optimistic lines about “stamping out the sorry feeling” while a memorable riff twists and turns over the track’s running time. Touching on themes that the band explored on their debut, more specifically @chl03k with quips about social media and dating, Wedding Singer marked the return of Modern Baseball in their most mature fashion.
9. The Old Gospel Choir
Featuring some of Lukens’ best lyrics to date, “Sharp as a tack, but in the sense that you’re not smart, just a prick”, today’s first appearance of a sophomore album track comes in the form of The Old Gospel Choir. Often overlooked by fans, this song finds our narrator discussing not only his apathy with other people but himself, often resulting in those around him to leave for that very reason. With this in mind alongside the instrumental shake up after the first verse, The Old Gospel Choir is just one of many gems in MoBo’s discography.
Another You’re Gonna Miss It All track, this time the finale Pothole. Written and performed by Ewald, we find ourselves witnessing the deconstruction of certain tropes in the genre by mocking it, specifically near the start with “romanticising my despair”. The song’s true emotional weight his near the final few lines as Ewald begins to compare himself to cracks in concrete, giving the impression of a man who views his own self worth very lowly but will do anything to give someone the love he himself wants.
As described by Ewald himself:
Everyday is a short exhibit of those insignificant memories and an attempt at understanding their importance in my life.
Not only this but the song touches on how everyone views, well, every day: whether it’s a gift from god as shown by the song’s female character or a challenge, Everyday finds Ewald at his lyrical peak as well as his most interesting vocally.
You thought we weren’t gonna include any tracks off Sports? You thought wrong: Cooke is just one of many instances on the band’s debut of the band being incredibly mature very early in their career. Packing one Modern Baseball’s best choruses as well as a visceral rundown of depression, it’s a great example of the emo rock outfit’s ability to etch itself into your head with an infectious hook but leave you thinking about the song in a far more depressing fashion.
5. The Waterboy Returns
Now that we’re in the top five it’s time to hit out with the big guns. A cut off the band’s The Perfect Cast EP, The Waterboy Returns seems like an innocent enough track from the title alone, a nod to the appearance of Cameron Boucher from Sorority Noise who shares the same surname as Adam Sandler’s character from the film. However, as the song begins and Lukens begins to sing, you realise the impact this song brings: singing about toxic coping mechanisms and the harsh reality that people are happy to offer support but not give it, The Waterboy Returns stands out as one of the band’s most important tracks.
4. Tears Over Beers
While it may be the most conventional or immature song thematically, girl picks jock over geek, Tears Over Beers stands out as a favourite amongst fans for a reason. Turning the whole experience into some kind of masochist experience for the girl in question, the song is backed up by some of the catchiest instrumentals the band have ever crafted. It may not stand out as unique in the genre but is sure as hell holds up as a great track.
3. Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy the Movie Part Deux (2 Disc Director’s Cut)
It may have the biggest title of all the songs ranked today but Alpha Kappa isn’t over compensating. Described by the band themselves, the song is about those who “pretend you don’t care, or just don’t feel. It’s not until you meet someone you can be unabashedly honest with that you realize how half-assed your life has become”. Lyrically the song is great but it’s in the performances where the most enjoyment comes from: moody chugging guitars pace their way throughout with a stripped back bridge evoking more emotion than any band worth their salt would want to provoke through words alone.
What’s even better than the great intro to Modern Baseball’s debut record? A “re-do” of it, using the exact same introductory lines, layering the instrumentals and further adding to the song’s structure until it becomes the epitome of adolescence and maturation. Low self-esteem, depression, relationship problems and attitudes towards young adults makes this the meatiest track not only in terms of what it has to say but how it says it. Somehow, there’s one track that tops this…
1. Your Graduation
There’s a good reason why the band consistently finish their sets with this track. Lukens often serves as Modern Baseball’s main source of depression, something this list has shown so far and Your Graduation explores this in a different way than usual, pondering how this condition can be brought on more than just internally as he struggles with change and the acceptance of it.
Call it a casual move to rank this as the band’s best song but considering how varied the song gets, going from typical angsty emo to a near hip hop level of flow in the second verse, Your Graduation sprawls into not only the best track of the band’s career but one of the best this decade has to offer.