Birds down basement
Night time’s got me beat
In two corners, I’ve been feeling weaker than usual
Fill my veins with anything or love
Your dilated eyes are in my mind more than usual
— Birds Down Basement, Ball Park Music
Six-piece Brisbane band Ball Park Music look quirky but don’t let that put you off. Their debut album Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs doesn’t just rely on the wacky factor to ensnare listeners.
Lead singer Sam Cormack – who looks uncannily like Doctor Who’s David Tennant – admits he’s Beatles obsessed and the Fab Four’s influence can definitely be heard in the Brisbane Six’s songs.
iFly (aka I F*cking Love You – see what they did there?) gained a bit of f*cking love itself on Triple J playlists in 2010, showcasing a knack for a hummable pop tune married to profanity-laden lyrics.
It’s a deft combination that dominates the early stages of Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs with bouncing firstie Literally Baby setting its controls for the heart of the fun. Hurtling past at breakneck speed and name checking Elton John as “not the perfect rival” (for some reason), it’s an effective attention grabbing opening gambit.
Cheery choon It’s Nice To Be Alive maintains the upbeat vibe with its poppy life-affirming message and ‘Don’t stress/That’s dumb/It’s nice to be alive’ chorus a soothing tonic for troubling times.
Third track Sad Rude Future Dude mirrors the album cover artwork though by hitting a bit of a bum note. It’s a tad embarrassing to be bright young things moaning about how ‘personal computers’ have made social situations impersonal in 2011, no? Oh well, whatever, never mind because fortunately it’s pretty much the only misstep on display here.
The production on Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs also deserves some praise, mostly for its unobtrusive nature. You genuinely get the feeling six people played these songs together in a room which is all too rare in this age of producer as star and/or de facto band member.
It’s the surrounding suburbs rather than the happiness that impresses most, especially the sequence of songs that comprises what used to be an album’s “side two”. The immediately catchy likes of Rich People Are Stupid on “side one” are fast acting hooks but the latter songs have more depth.
Kicking off with the gorgeously downbeat and harmonic Birds Down Basements and finishing with the frankly tritely titled (there are worse crimes) Happy Healthy Citizen Of The Developed World Blues via the lilting Glass Jar it’d be a bit of a stretch to call this Ball Park Music’s Abbey Road-esque side two song sequence but it’s –- you’ve guessed it –- in the same ball park.
That clunkily entitled closer seems to segue several song fragments into a cohesive whole before playing out with a rearranged reprise of opener Literally Baby. Hopefully, Ball Park Music will push forward in this slightly more experimental direction in future.
It’s a bit of a shame that iFly interrupts the back end flow (not another album cover reference..) but nowadays it’s easy to shuffle things around and place earlier song Alligator in there instead.
Personal computers and new fangled technology are good for some things, after all.
earworms: Literally Baby, Rich People Are Stupid, iFly