Originally published through Tone Deaf.
There are some aspects of Museum that are classic Ball Park Music.
The band still know their way around a hook and the guitars are skilfully and simply interwoven with Sam Cromack’s lovely, reedy vocals. The melodies also continue to be strong and are effortlessly supported by a solid rhythm section.
But this album is – gasp! – serious.
Well, sort of. Serious by Ball Park Music standards, although admittedly a circus could be considered serious when compared to their twee and silly debut, Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs.
There is a notable increase in the amount of minor key used, and while their subject matter has always had a tendency to be weirdly dark – like ‘Sad Rude Future Dude’ on their previous release, or ‘Pot of Gold’ on Museum – this darkness is now mirrored in the musicality as well.
The themes no longer come off as ironically fun or like a joke we might not be in on. Rather, songs are making actual statements on society.
Tracks like ‘Surrender’ and ‘Fence-Sitter’ are still the aural versions of a big, goofy smile, and ‘Bad Taste Blues Part II’ sounds like it was custom-made for dancing around the room in your pyjamas. But ‘High Court’ is surprisingly thoughtful, and songs like ‘Harbour of Lame Ducks’ and ‘Coming Down’ are decidedly melancholy.
Museum is a bit like that one friend who is always the joker of the group suddenly revealing they have a deeper side. It’s the episode of How I Met Your Mother where you discover that the usually goofy Barney has father issues.
It’s not quite Ball Park Music’s ‘mature’ album, but it’s a definite step in that direction.
Museum takes itself seriously – the question is whether or not listeners will too.