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Back in 2013, I heard a song called "Burnley" by a band called Ceres (pronounced SERIES). It took no more than one play to become obsessed, and by the end of that week, I had already pre-ordered the EP from Australia. That bridge...
The lyricism reminds me a lot of Patrick Stump, one of my earliest favorites once I started listening to more indie/emo/punk stuff. So biting but so graceful at the same time.
Plus, there are gang vocals. That's an almost guaranteed hook for me at this point, so do with that what you will.
Ceres have continued to release solid music that falls somewhere between Frightened Rabbit and Jimmy Eat World. It's anthemic and emotional as hell, and the same can be said for their upcoming new album We Are a Team, out April 26 via Cooking Vinyl Australia.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from; a great album is a great album. And that’s exactly what Ceres have on their hands here.
From the very first line of the record –– “I’m gonna get happy” –– to the swooning, string-laden closing track “Something Good” with its refrain, “I think something good’s gonna happen,” Ceres have created their own modern masterpiece; one that will undoubtedly sink into the hearts and minds of people half a world away.
And unlike its darker predecessor, 2016’s Drag It Down On You, We Are a Team is, at its core, an exercise in accountability, positivity and most of all, love.
It’s all a far cry from where vocalist Tom Lanyon found himself following the release of the Melbourne band’s 2017 standalone single, “Stretch Ur Skin.” A break-up song that provided Ceres with their biggest radio hit to date regrettably also caused some collateral emotional damage.
“You break someone’s heart, and then three months later you release a song that breaks it back open again,” sighs the singer-guitarist. “I thought that was really selfish of me. It put me in this crazy funk; I should have been more responsible with what I was doing. I just felt really bad for that situation.”
The turning point came months later, as he and his current partner started dating. Prior to his passing, her father Viv was an artist, and one day Lanyon took some of Viv’s work to a framer. The singer would later write about the experience in the first single from We Are a Team, “Viv In The Front Seat,” a song that not only heralded the start of a new relationship, but a new beginning for the band.
With the exception of two songs – “Stay Awake” and “Collarbone, 2011” – Lanyon wrote the album between February and September 2018, when Ceres gathered in a house in Apollo Bay with producer Tom Bromley (guitarist for UK outfit Los Campesinos!) and Grammy-nominated engineer Andrei Eremin (Chet Faker, Tash Sultana) to record We Are a Team.
The band set up in a seven-bedroom house on an idyllic rural property without phone reception or internet, for 16 days to make the record. Turn the volume up at the start of the hushed, intimate “Stay Awake” and you can hear the wind howling through the house’s rafters; at the end of “Something Good” you can detect the sound of it creaking.
The fact that the house became a part of the recording tied in nicely with the album’s themes, as the property belongs to the family of Lanyon’s partner and was a favourite location of Viv’s.
“For us to make a record about that family’s niece or daughter in that house is pretty incredible,” says Lanyon.
While the album might mark a shift thematically for Ceres, musically We Are a Team continues the band’s ability to create stirring, life-affirming indie-rock anthems, albeit with a more nuanced, mature songwriting flare that reflects the roadwork and emotional growth of the past three years.