Northern California-based punk band Ceremony strays from their hardcore punk genre in their new release, The L-Shaped Man, with an entirely new style of dreary shoegaze; highly reminiscent of Joy Division, New Order, and Interpol. The album comes out on May 19, but in anticipation, it’s available for streaming on radio station, KEXP’s website.
Ceremony’s first five albums blatantly exhibited a theme of early American hardcore punk and they kept up that aesthetic for around ten years. A decade since their dawn poses a perfect time for a new genre of eerie and dull post-punk.
In The L-Shaped Man, we are told the story of the band’s frontman, Ross Farrar’s recent romantic breakup. The album welcomes its listeners with a short opener, “Hibernation” which serves as an eerie intro with echoey vocals to set the tone for the whole album. As the album progresses, we delve into Farrar’s dark thoughts as he sings about giving up in “Exit Fears” with dark lyrics such as, “The pain will leave in the night / memories return in the light” and “nothing in this world survives / nothing ever feels right.”
After three songs of sadness and wallowing in rock bottom, the pace is picked up with hopeful sounds of reminiscing in “Your Life In France” and “Your Life In America,” which recall memories of sitting in cafes and patios, standing in snow, and former loves. These songs further emphasize the Joy Division resemblance in The L-Shaped Man with “give your heart and soul to me”, as one of Joy Division’s most popular albums is titled Heart and Soul. Let’s not forget that their band name is adopted from a Joy Division song.
As Ian Curtis’ spirit continues to echo in Farrar’s voice, he sings sad lyrics to an almost upbeat tune. The closest thing we come to revisiting Ceremony’s punk roots in this album is in “Root Of The World,” which lets out anger with enraged vocals. Farrar hastily sings, “you can’t escape the sound within this room.”
The time has come for Ceremony to live up to their band name and it’s quite pleasant. I’m glad that Ian Curtis’ spirit still lives on to influence music today. All in all, The L-Shaped Man fits my personal taste perfectly and satisfies my likings for storytelling, morbidity, and new music.
The L-Shaped Man Track list:
2. Exit Fears
4. Your Life In France
5. Your Life In America
6. The Separation
7. The Pattern
8. Root Of The World
9. The Party
10. The Bridge
11. The Understanding