A Pretty OK Song: "Exactly How You Are" - Ball Park Music
Ball Park Music hails from Brisbane, probably the least interesting city I visited in Australia (actually, it's probably still Canberra, but whatever). They formed the band while in college on the Gold Coast—think Australia's Miami—and have been cranking out slightly melancholy indie rock ever since. I first heard them while studying in Australia, then listened to their 2014 album Puddinghead a bunch when it came out, so it was exciting to see them move in a slightly brighter, more upbeat direction—first on Every Night the Same Dream, now with their new song "Exactly How You Are."
"Exactly How You Are" kicks off with a watery, wavy guitar riff before lead singer Sam Cromack joins the fray, sounding more than a bit like Beck. The resemblance fades as the chord progression changes slightly leading into the chorus, which has a nice swell to it. It's not a banger by any stretch, but the arrangement still gives that moment a climactic feel. But it's what comes after the second chorus that interests me...
...a guitar solo.
I can't pinpoint exactly when it died, but it seems like every new song I hear skips the solo altogether. I guess it's a combination of maximizing the time for catchy vocal hooks and not wanting to swell songs to bloated "Stairway to Heaven" levels, but whatever the reason, instrumental solos are less and less prevalent. Ball Park Music ignores the trend, though, and it's a good choice. The solo really helps build up the excitement for the big final chorus.
I also found the subject matter very sticky and enjoyable. The band told Australian radio station Triple J that the song came about when a friend was asked about a new relationship and mentioned how nice it was to be with someone who really accepts you for who you are. It's kind of common sense, but it's still affecting. Having someone willing to put up with your imperfections really is a great feeling, and it's extremely difficult to be with someone who's trying to get you to change.
It made me think about being yourself. It's so easy to pretend to be someone you're not, or to curate the parts of you that other people are allowed to experience so they get a misleading picture of you. But "Exactly How You Are" is there to remind us that it's important to just be you, and to look for people who will appreciate that you.
Until next week.