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BALL PARK MUSIC Good Mood gets 8.5/10

Ball Park Music
Good Mood
Stop Start

8.5/10

Ball Park Music have named their fifth studio album Good Mood, but perhaps should have called it “Feels” because it sure does bring the feel good moments. True to its title, the album really puts you in a good mood.

Continuing on from 2016’s Every Night The Same Dream, opening track The End Times bids adieu to the gloomy shadow (well, as gloomy as Ball Park could get) that the band were keen to do away with, before launching straight into the first big rock track, I Am A Dog. From here on it’s a swag of catchy choruses, danceable riffs, and loved-up themes.

Recorded in their DIY studio (affectionately nick-named “The Bunnings Warehouse” according to their Instagram account) at home in Brisbane, Good Mood sees the band return to a more conventional pop structure and getting back to their strengths. Produced and engineered in house by vocalist Sam Cromack and mixed in Sydney by Paul McKercher (You Am I, Sarah Blasko), the sound is clear and vibrant. The lyrics: confident and straight up. Technically, there’s not much to fault.

The Hallmark moments come early with Frank, The Perfect Life Does Not Exist and the 2017 top 20 placer Exactly As You Are, the latter guaranteed on high rotation at weddings for the next 12 months (and beyond). And yes, Cromack does open the track with “I don’t know the cunts you used to hang around with …”. Cunt in Australian means friend. Although I’m not sure that’s the context here. On listening to lyrics such as “There’s no romance in this shit facility/ Tired arms reach out at swinging branches/ I see phonies in their room for improvement/ Are you looking for me?”,  this song becomes more about two people being brought together as a result of bad circumstances and loneliness than blind attraction.

Upcoming single Hands Off My Body is the standout. Recorded live on the second take, the track may have come about via a humorous suggestion from Cromack’s wife, but it inadvertently addresses topical contemporary issues that could be translated into dealing with body image, gender and reclaiming what is yours.  It’s also got a freakish 70s sounding synth line over killer psych-stoner rock chords that really bring the anger out.

Coming down, So Nice is a welcome intermission that doesn’t break the pace. Simplistic in its lyrics, the reprise “You are so nice to me/ I want to put your mind at ease,” keeps the warm fuzzy feelings going. There’s some familiar Radiohead/ Thom Yorke vibes going on here that tie the rock and dreamy pop elements together well.

The album takes moment to pause through Dreaming of America and If It Kills You, then brings it back up for one of the best moments, I Am So In Love With You. This final track is a beautiful climax that will have you grabbing your closest loved one for a heartfelt singalong. However, it’s not quite finished. In the digital age it’s hard to keep anything secret, but Ball Park have managed to slip in a neat little “hidden track”: a synthy epilogue over a soundtrack of Australian bird calls. The finale stays with you long after the album finishes.

Good Mood has already proven to be popular with listeners – as evidenced by their recent performance at Badlands in early March – which no doubt will restore the band’s self-esteem after Every Night The Same Dream was their first album not to score a track in the Hottest 100. It’s a strong, but early, contender for the year’s top listens. I challenge you not to feel happier on listening.

Q

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