Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let's Play Ball!

The Baseball Project are a band about baseball. 3rd, their latest LP, is an album about baseball consisting of eighteen songs about baseball. If you like baseball, you will like this record.

But here's the strange thing: I know nothing about baseball, and I still find 3rd to be a pretty enjoyable listen. I doubt that many people in the UK are particularly familiar with America's pastime, but these sportsfan rockstars have written some pretty catchy tunes about it, and no amount of cryptic references to gold gloves and magic numbers could turn me off a song like To The Veterans Committee:

Box Scores is another great example; before I heard that jaunty little tune, I had no idea what a box score was, but instead of feeling ashamed and alienated, I popped over to Wikipedia and - hey! - now I know what a box score is, and I understand why someone would write a song about one (although I'm still not sure I understand the line about 'the sparrow').


But while the catchy melodies certainly help, the real key to this album's accessibility lies elsewhere. See, these songs aren't really about baseball - they're stories about people, and baseball is just the thread that tethers everything together.

Examples: Larry Yount is a song about blowing your golden opportunity, The Baseball Card Song is all about having a nerdy obsession (as is Box Scores), and Pascual on the Perimeter describes the familiar feeling of getting lost and being late for something important. We've all been there, regardless of whether or not we've ever played baseball.

More than anything else, this album reminds me of Illinois by Sufjan Stevens. Granted, 3rd doesn't match the emotional heft of Sufjan's paean to The Prarie State, but it does display a similar passion for turning obscure trivia into golden nuggets of song. Recommended, regardless of how you feel about baseball.

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