Despite attributing a purple patch in writing to the sound of Ball Park Music’s new album, Good Mood, there’s more to it than a streak of luck or serendipity. If anything, GOOD MOOD offers an indirect retrospective on all that Ball Park Music have journeyed through, resulting in a scribed open love letter to their longevity.
With guitarist Dean Hanson’s foray into songwriting with lead-man Sam Cromack, each song reaches its full sweet potential without succumbing to the temptation to add a cherry on top every time; a case of less is more perhaps? Landing just eighteen months after their last album, there is a visceral sensation that this release is meant to be experienced live, a chance to showcase the multi-dimensionality of an act which is often condemned to the crammed pigeon-hole of indie-pop.
Although still driven by pop-sensibility, GOOD MOOD finds its way into the realms of post-punk at its mid-point with its frenetic drum lines hatched in a studio but intended to fledge on stage. For a band who have never been lost, instead generally found in the upper echelons of the charts, there’s an overwhelming feeling of something being found in this album. Lackadaisical labelling would assign such discovery to maturity and confidence, which naturally plays a part in getting older, but also shows a certain disregard for the intentional arc of the album as well as the honesty with which it’s been created.
In the interest of unpacking this further, Sam Cromack takes the time out to walk us through this two-part record of self-discovery, track by track. Listen along to GOOD MOOD here.
The End Times
“I definitely see this as being the stepping stone between the last album and this album. I was in this dreary, fearful state of mind on the last record. That’s why I rolled with that chorus, even though the lyrics are kinda bleak, the song sounds so uplifting. I think that’s how everyone feels, desperately looking for some optimism again and it always struck me as track one on the album; start it off as this plea, to everybody. Are you in the same fucking boat as me? Do you actually wanna change your life?”
I Am a Dog
“I think some psychologist needs to look into why I’m singing that chorus lyric. This song cracks me up too because it was the first song off the album I played to my Dad and he was like ‘I don’t like that chorus lyric, I just don’t like it.’ For me it’s so interesting that on one hand dogs are these creatures about love and loyalty but on the other hand there can be this other connotation where you can call someone who has betrayed you or turned their back on you a dog. So, I like the dual meaning there.”
“Some reviews have alluded to Frank Ocean already but there’s no link there at all. Truth be told, I sang this song in gibberish. We had a demo of me just singing this thing in gibberish for the longest time then we were into the recording session and my bandmates were like ‘Hey do you think you should maybe write some lyrics?’ I guess when you sing in gibberish it comes from a subconscious place. It’s almost like this deathly goodbye letter. Y’know? ‘When I’m gone remember me and that I loved you.’ It kinda gives me the creeps how it came together.”
The Perfect Life Does Not Exist
“This is one of the ones Dean, our guitarist, wrote. I think it’s an awesome song and it’s the first song we’ve ever released that Dean’s written and I always describe this song as having a lot of muscle. It’s just anchored in this mid-tempo kind of groove and the melody is super, super strong. As best I understand he was dealing with a rager of a hangover and was asking all the usual questions of, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ Then took the pressure off a bit a realised there is no such thing as a perfect life. So, then we have the song.”
Exactly How You Are
“In many ways this song signifies a change in direction and attitudes from the last album, as a writer. I’m sure my band members got the demo in their inbox and thought ‘oh thank Christ he’s writing singles again!’ I really tried to get back in touch with how I used to write when I was much younger. Just me, my guitar and a notebook. The next day it was just like, ‘shit this is how you write a song’. The sentiment is clear, there’s no fucking around. It really kinda set me off in this new direction of ‘I can do this’. You just have to keep it simple.”
Hands Off My Body
“This song is the only song on the record that came about spontaneously during the recording sessions. The recording that’s on the album is the second time we ever played the song live, vocals guitar, drums, everything in the room. The concept actually came from my wife, the idea of cutting off all your body parts. It was one of those moments where we were thinking it wasn’t going to be on the album, we were just playing as friends and then when it was finished I think we were a little intimidated by it. We didn’t know if it was the right vibe, so we sent it out to a bunch of people and everyone was like ‘fuck me, this is gnarly you have to put this out on the album!’ I honestly think it’s one of my favourite songs we’ve ever done as a band.”
“Shit, I don’t know where to start with this one. It was probably one of the ones that we doubted the most. It’s obviously the odd one out, it’s the longest and has a different dynamic to the others. One of the influences was ‘She’s so heavy’ by The Beatles which is the longest Beatles song and only has like, I dunno, ten words in it or something. So, I kinda wanted to do the same thing. [In] this song, the only lyrics are “you’re so nice to me, I want to put your mind at ease”. It really feels like us flexing our composer muscles.”
Dreaming of America
“It’s very literal. I woke up one day and went to the piano because I had the melody in my head. I had spent the whole night dreaming of America and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time there and make some good friends. The band has certainly been my means of seeing the world and all that travel certainly affects who you are as a person. If it’s true to you, sing your truth. Also, my wife told me to write about something else you dream of other than bloody love for a change.”
If It Kills You
“This was a co-write between Dean and myself. It was a classic case of mashing two songs together, Dean wrote the verses and then I sorta put some lyrics with those verses. Then I had written the chorus, the ‘if it kills you’ bit, all the way back when we were working on Pudding Head so it’s a bit of a mongrel this song.”
I Am So In Love With You
“So, this one is the other song that Dean wrote, he’s clearly finding his feet as a writer and has a huge knack for melodies. He was originally singing ‘I was so in love with you’. It was almost like a break-up song. He’s recently engaged and to tie it in with everything else we made it, ‘I am so in love with you’. We wanted to make it this big, brave and courageous love song and bring it into the present. I’m really proud of this one and people are saying this is a triumphant closer, and to me this is possibly the best closer we’ve had in a while.”