Since forming in 2012, Ceres’ infectious anthemic songs combined with endless enthusiasm and unmistakably Australian likability has resulted in the Melbourne quartet becoming much loved by critics and punters alike. Their knack for genius melodies and heartfelt tales of lost love is on display in bold strokes across their sophomore album, ‘Drag It Down On You’
Cutting their teeth playing sweaty house shows and packed weeknight basement slots, Ceres quickly found themselves becoming the favourite young band of many of Australia’s favourite bands; being invited on the road with the likes of Luca Brasi, The Smith Street Band, and jumping onboard for over 20 shows in 2015 with good mates Violent Soho.
The debut release ‘Luck’ overflowed with an infectious youthful vivacity of punk-meets-emo-rock sound, then 2014’s debut album ‘I Don’t Want To Be Anywhere But Here’ (Hobbledehoy Records) was greeted by a chorus of critical acclaim; Tone Deaf branding the record ‘a fun, joyous, and remarkable listen’ and Beat Magazine describing the album as ‘Full to the brim with poppy hooks and alt-rock effervescence’
Ceres continued to develop their craft on 2014’s ‘Selfish Prick’ EP and 2015’s ‘Ceres Is For Lovers’ single, both evidence of an act beginning to fully realize their collective capabilities.
Written carefully over two years amidst tours, travel, and personal changes, second LP ‘Drag It Down On You’ was recorded across what the band call “one long, funny, emotional, frustrating, incredible, life-affirming” fortnight in March 2016.
Ceres were not alone in the studio, as longtime fans of Los Campesinos! they invited Tom Bromley of the much-loved Cardiff indie act to head Melbourne and join Tom, Rhys, Frank and Grant in the famed Sing Sing Studios to produce the new album.
Unafraid to present a catalogue of new yet unpolished songs to Bromley, they work shopped new material, even dragging half-finished tunes like Us from the creative trash-heap.
There’s an instantly nostalgic quality to ‘Drag It Down On You’. This volume of songs is both sonic and lyrically a voyage into more mature territory. Still present is the warmth and heartache of previous releases, but the territory explored is more varied. Tales of lost love have been recast as explorations of families and friendships, failures and futures. The perspective is broader, and the diversity of sounds reflects that.
Tom Lanyon explains “Writing Drag It Down On You was a pretty cathartic experience for me. It’s definitely the darkest stuff I’ve got out into songs. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m getting older, but there is a lot of death on this record, or at least the idea of death. A lot about people who are going, or gone, or want to be gone. Seemed like that’s what spilled out when I’d sit down to write. Oh and girls, it’s about girls too.”
The thematic contrast between Ceres’ album titles hints at the darker tone of LP2 (see Spinning Wheel), yet still, an irresistible positivity shines through. Bright guitar tones still dominate the mixes, and drummer Frank Morda’s crispy drumlines pack more punch than ever, but something mournful is present here. Vocalist Tom Lanyon’s grainy Australian drawl has adopted a quiet new confidence (see Baby’s Breath). The addictive dynamism, shameless self-deprecation and hummable melodies that made previous releases so alluring are still on full display (see Roll Ur Eyes). Yet 90s emo influences have been slowly dominated by a nod at 90s melodic indie rock. There is both the laid-back self-assurance of Pavement or Superchunk and the fearless melodiousness of Jimmy Eat World or Japandroids. This may be a more mature act thematically, but the Ceres sound is as fresh as ever.
‘Drag It Down On You’ engineering and mixing duties were handled by Aaron Dobbs (who produced I Don’t Want to Be Anywhere But Here), and the popular Alan Douches (Brand New, Cloud Nothings, Mono) of NYC’s West West Side mastered the album.
With a freshly inked deal with Cooking Vinyl Australia, the home to a roster of perfectly complimentary contemporaries such as Modern Baseball, PUP, Basement, Pinegrove and Beach Slang, the band’s bond with Cooking Vinyl MD and former triple j host Stu Harvey was forged through his enthusiasm and support for the act since their very first release. This partnership surely signals thrilling opportunities ahead for the charming Melbournians.
Ceres may be slightly restless, and a little bit anxious. But it is abundantly clear that despite the trials, on ‘Drag It Down On You’, they are ready for anything.