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 to be danced around the room in your pyjamas to. 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.