Recommended If You Like: The Wombats, Years & Years, Two Door Cinema Club, Avec Sans
In the entry for the Franny and Zooey-themed cocktail in Tim Federle’s literary-themed drinks book Tequila Mockingbird, Federle channels Salinger’s semi-famous and glamorously mopey brother-sister duo by moaning, “For the love of Brooklyn, be thankful you’ve got this much time — and this little responsibility — to feel so full of angst. It won’t last forever, baby!”
All pretentious literary references aside, the sentiment of Federle’s sentence is one Ball Park Music have channeled in their song “Nihilist Party Anthem.” Released as a single several months prior to their new album Every Night the Same Dream (released August 19 via Stop Start), the song’s title might come as a shock for fans of the Brisbane group’s signature fun-loving synthpop. But not so fast. Ball Park Music’s take on nihilism — or, should we say, the jaded millennial staring-into-the-void/dark-mysterious-and-edgy-on-Twitter brand of nihilism — is a gloriously self-deprecating take on the oft-overused phrase “life is meaningless.”
Listen: “Nihilist Party Anthem – Ball Park Music
From the first note, it’s clear that this isn’t your average dirge. In fact, it’s not a dirge at all—though Jen Boyce’s bass riffs and Paul Furness’ synth get pretty heavy at points. As vocalist Sam Cromack’s falsetto-heavy vocals come in with lyrics “The nightmare hasn’t even started,” it’s evident that this party anthem will be one tinged with a heavy dose of irony.
Eclipsed in a burst of synth, one can almost feel the mock-detachment as Cromack sings:
Baby don’t fight it,
Come on get excited,
Don’t you want to feel this way forever?
No matter how nihilistic the song is (or isn’t), it’s a barrel of fun, thanks to the seamless blend of guitar and synth. And if the lyrics don’t hint at Ball Park Music’s tone, the music video should. Shot in candid black and white and subtitled with buckets of self-loathing internal monologues, it’s both a celebration and mockery of the good ol’ void. (Personal favorite subtitle: “I feel cool but Christ, I’m in pain…Not just the awful physical pain but also heaps of internal pain”).
Watch: “Nihilist Party Anthem – Ball Park Music
Through both the video and the song itself, Ball Park Music is effectively taking the piss out of feeling nothing as being cool, out of the manufactured brand of detached, self-congratulatory hip kids (see: a few big-name indie stars these days [and also, me]). Or are they? Is this a cry for the world of indie musicians and their followers to remember that it’s about the music, not the aesthetic, drowned in the mockery of a cry for help?
Like the new convert to existentialism who never did the reading from your Philosophy 101 class might say, the answer is ultimately up to you—though the song’s title and tone (and the fact that Cromack referenced the page Nihilist Memes when discussing the song in one interview) might direct you to believe that at the end of the day, it’s still a party anthem. And why can’t nihilism be fun?, Ball Park Music seems to be asking. What fun it is to have a specially-constructed song about nihilism where attempts to find meaning in it are all up to the listener.
I’m a nihilist cuz life is awful and you know it,
So show it,
Your freezing shoulders if your name is one for the age.
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed nihilist, existentialist, or any-other-kind-of-ist, you have to admit that “Nihilist Party Anthem” shows Ball Park Music at their most clever. So grab that Salinger novel you never opened, an absinthe cocktail, your plum lipstick, and your most attractive frown–this party is one you’ll never wish was over. Even if you have a pressing date to cloak yourself in the blackness of the void afterwards.
Every Night the Same Dream – Ball Park Music
Ball Park Music Every Night the Same Dream Tour Dates
09.22–Studio 56 at Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, Australia
09.23–Solbar, Maroochydore, Australia
09.24-09.25–The Triffid, Brisbane, Australia
09.28–Crow Bar, Wagga Wagga, Australia
09.29–ANU Bar, Canberra, Australia
09.30–Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
10.01–Yours & Owls Festival, Wollongong, Australia
10.04–Corner Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
10.05-10.06–Barwon Club, Geelong, Australia
10.07–170 Russell, Melbourne, Australia
10.08–Uni Bar, Hobart, Australia
10.13-10.14–The Gov, Adelaide, Australia
10.15–Capitol, Perth, Australia
10.21–Discovery, Darwin, Australia
10.22–Gap View Hotel, Alice Springs, Australia
10.28–The Venue, Townsville, Australia
10.29–Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, Australia
11.05–This That Festival, Newcastle, Australia