On this year’s excellent Holy Ghost, Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball was more confessional than ever. Though the band has always been touted as a sort-of journal for songwriters Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald, Holy Ghost was an intimate look at their private lives that connected in real, demonstrable ways. It makes sense that for his first full-length under the name Slaughter Beach, Dog that Ewald would attempt to shift his perspective. Welcome sees Ewald building a record around detailed character studies of people who live in the fictional town of Slaughter Beach, allowing the introspective songs to be attached to someone else this time.
The A.V. Club is streaming all of Welcome, an album that shows Ewald‘s songs are just as sharp even when he’s a step removed. His lyrics are still evocative, though, with “Mallrat Semi-Annual” packing in countless details about the characters he’s created to make them feel familiar. Musically, Ewald makes the most of simple constructions. “Bed Fest” has a lo-fi jangle and rolling snare that feels like a sketch of an alt-country ballad, while “Politics Of Grooming” uses an egg shaker as the sole percussive instrument to tell a lonesome tale of isolation. But it’s not all dour, as these tracks are balanced against moments of pure catharsis, such as the instrumental “Essex Street,” or the rabid Hold Steady-esque soloing of “Drinks.”