You can’t accuse Hardball of not taking things seriously. Their self-titled debut album, as reckoned by lead singer Scott Budgie, is a testament to a labour of love, sweat, and tears. The journey to its creation involved scrapping and re-doing, and the results that emerge from this dedication are undeniably palpable.

“The Tree” opens the album, immediately evoking memories of early, raw grunge. The gritty energy and unpolished sound transport listeners back to the essence of the genre’s roots, capturing an authentic sense of rebellion and raw emotion. It sets the stage for what’s to come on the journey.

“Worried As Shit” serves as the album’s single, acting as an introduction to the band’s sound. It’s a statement piece, encapsulating the essence of Hardball’s sonic identity. “NRA” follows suit, maintaining the scrappy and fuzzy nature that grunge is renowned for. The track exudes a gritty attitude, channelling the raw intensity that defines the genre. It’s a sonic punch that leaves an indelible mark.

“Chilli” takes a different turn, immersing listeners in a sound that would surely thrive in an underground club environment. The track’s dark and pulsating energy seems tailor-made for dimly lit venues, where sweat drips down the walls and the music becomes a visceral experience.

A notable moment arrives with “Ian,” whether real or symbolic, this track adds a layer of intrigue and personal connection, drawing the audience deeper into the band’s world.

“I/O” introduces an acoustic opening, a nod to the influence of Nirvana. The connection is palpable, and while the band wears their inspiration proudly, they also manage to infuse their unique essence into every note. It’s a homage that pays respect while carving out their own space in the musical landscape.

The album’s closing track, “Open Air,” is a departure from the rest. Clocking in at nearly ten minutes, it takes listeners on an unsettling journey reminiscent of “In Utero” if  we’re continuing the Nirvana motif.. The track’s discomforting ambiance and haunting melodies showcase Hardball’s willingness to push boundaries and experiment with their sound.

The hard work invested in Hardball’s self-titled debut album is evident in every track. This is not a mere grunge revival; it’s a reboot that captures the genre’s spirit while infusing it with their own artistic vision. This album marks the starting point of a new chapter in the grunge movement, and it’s clear that Hardball is here to make their own mark.

Rating 8/10

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