Very recently, Keep Calm and Carry On did a Most Anticipated Albums of 2014 Roundtable discussion. It was in that article that I stated You’re Gonna Miss It All would either solidify Modern Baseball’s spot as the quirky opener for big names or catapult them to a need-to-know band in the emo scene. Even with high hopes and expectations for this album, it quickly exceeded everything I anticipated.
The album opens with “Fine, Great,” a lyrical punch in the stomach by Brenden Lukens, addressing the anxiety of looking forward when consumed by the past. Immediately in the first track, the band shows their growth in their lyrical content as well as how they go about getting feelings across. The words are concise and powerful. Yet, in true Modern Baseball fashion, Lukens also addresses Instagram in this song, covering all the bases for what makes this band so fun. Without losing their identity or wacky remarks, the lyrics are powerful, thought-provoking, and relatable. For anyone who listened to Sports and discounted the band by viewing their quirkiness as immaturity, You’re Gonna Miss it All tore that statement in half and stomped on it a couple times. Modern Baseball created the perfect balance of angst and light-hardheartedness, addressing very real problems in life and love and all the unwarranted emotions and weird obstacles that come along with it. They don’t apologize for any of it, but instead embrace it, making it a new go-to album for anyone hitting life’s roadblocks in growing up.
In addition to well-written quirky lyrics, the instrumentals are both impressive and cohesive. Several songs begin with a stripped-down plucking on the guitar and maybe some quiet drums before booming into a full-band jam, such as “The Old Gospel Choir” and “Apartment”. “Two Good Things” is a pretty cool track as well, building as it goes. But instead of solely utilizing instruments, the silence is filled in with background vocals, snapping, and clapping along with slow additions of more guitars and bass. It was a very different and fun way to continue this newfound habit of starting quiet to blow the listener away by the time the chorus hits. It is not that the overall sound and influences are any different than their first LP Sports. If anything, it’s super similar, except done much better. Overall, the sound is much fuller and the production is on another level than previous releases. The raw openings are severely contrasted by the powerful instrumentals that are so fluid that several songs that continue into the next. As far as genre is concerned, Modern Baseball still combines folky influences, most notably in the sometimes twangy guitars and vocals, with the punk/emo foundations for a pretty unique sound that attracts fans of many genres. There’s a lot more power in these vocals than we’ve seen before, inciting different emotions while also highlighting the clear improvement in range.
Perhaps the most growth and best song of the album is the lead single “Your Graduation,” as the combination of sounds, rhythms, and vocals create such a killer song. Lukens opens up the song with uptempo vocals over a single guitar with drums kicking in a little later. Yet, it’s Sean Huber who steals the show in the second verse, coming in strong yet coarse, taking the song from bitter and a little lost to full out angry and spiteful. This song just kills it like no other and makes you want to throw stuff at your wall. Lukens does a great job to build the clenched-teeth emotion all for Huber to take it to a new level with a raspy yell.
With any first full-length, there’s a lot of boundary testing and a hesitation for risk-taking. However, gaining a fan base with the first LP and a ton of touring, Modern Baseball ran away with that confidence and unleashed their full potential. You’re Gonna Miss It All grabs the listeners from the opening line, keeps them completely enthralled for all twelve songs, and leaves them satisfied yet a little bummed that it had to end. The stream-of-conscious lyrics and relatable lingo hits so close to home, it’s almost scary. After listening to this album several times over, KCACO has reached a consensus than everyone’s life is actual a Modern Baseball song. These guys just get it just as much as your best friend from childhood does. In the end, for an album that I thought would solidify Modern Baseball’s career, it’s now an early contender for my Top 20 albums of 2014. Congratulations, Modern Baseball. Welcome to the big leagues (I really didn’t mean for that to be an awful pun, I’m so sorry).