Modern Baseball’s lyrics could easily be mistaken for the typical morning grumble of an overwhelmed NYU student. For instance, “Rock Bottom” includes the line, “To hell with class I’m skippin’/Let’s order food and sleep in/I’ve got so much to do/But it’s whatever forever.”
“Rock Bottom” is the third track off Modern Baseball’s new album “You’re Gonna Miss it All,” which came out Feb. 11. Modern Baseball, Philadelphia’s foremost contribution to the emo revival, demonstrate musical maturity with this sophomore album but have not yet grown out of their signature self-deprecating, sarcastic subject matter.
The chorus of opening track “Fine, Great” repeats, “I hate worrying about the future.” These lines resonate with anyone toeing the line between youth and adulthood.
Throughout the album, similarly artful witticisms shine a humorous light on growing up, almost like a pitifully sad coming-of-age sitcom. As sung in “Going to Bed Now,” Modern Baseball know what it is like to be “caught between my adolescent safety net and where the world wants me to be.”
Thematically, not much has changed from the band’s first full length release, 2012’s “Sports.” Sonically, however, Modern Baseball have produced a more confident, mature sound — worthy of streaming on Pitchfork rather than solely on a DIY bandcamp page.
From the catchy “Charlie Black” and “Your Graduation” to the slowed down “Tommy Bowers” and “Pothole,” the band’s second LP explores more nuanced musical territory as they become more comfortable in their folky, emo niche.
Singer Jake Ewald’s voice still sounds like a cross between Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes and the Dead Milkmen’s Rodney Linderman. However, Ewald’s newfound confidence in his vocals helps him deliver lyrics about insecurity in an unwavering, pleasant whine.
While maintaining coherence, this is an album that need not be listened to in full. The songs, while compatible, do not depend on each other for completion. For example, “Broken Cash Machine’s” angst-ridden, bored storyline essentially evokes the same feeling as the following track “Rock Bottom” in both emotion and sound.
The album is certainly worth hearing from start to finish, but the songs seem more like an addition to a playlist on shuffle rather than warranting a regularly-rotated playlist of their own.
“You’re Gonna Miss It All” is an improved follow-up to an already promising debut. Modern Baseball has solidified its position as a must-listen newcomer and has now earned the beginnings of a fruitful career accompanied by loyal fans.
Lyrics rife with clever one-liners that are relevant to the band’s fans set Modern Baseball apart from the hoards of young indie groups. Now, Modern Baseball’s fresh conviction brings an appeal for a demographic more widespread than the indie audience.
This album is the perfect go-to for the nerdy, depressed freshman in all of us.
Alyssa Buffenstein is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.