Review Summary: I can hear you spittin’ in the shower, I can hear you pissin’ in the gutter.
Australian music is in a pretty incredible place. Artists like Courtney Barnett, The Smith Street Band (affectionately referred to by us locals as The Smithies), and countless others prove that. In this incredible crowd, it’s inevitable that amazing artists will be lost. Ceres are one of these, being perhaps one of the most underrated emo-leaning bands I’ve come across yet.
Upon first listen, ‘Drag It Down on You’ sounds somewhat amateurish, but quickly reveals itself to be incredibly earnest and well-constructed. The band reveals the album’s bleakness from the outset, with the anti-love song opener ‘Okay’ giving way to the similarly-themed ‘Happy in Your Head’. Over simple yet catchy instrumentals, vocalist Tom Lanyon agonises over unrequited love (“Kiss your forehead, I'm in love/(…) Miss your boyfriend, you're in love”). The sweetly sad ‘Roll Ur Eyes’ follows with a satisfying blend of acoustic-driven pop-punk and emo, on which Lanyon’s emotional vocals couple brilliantly with the track’s simple nostalgia. This illustrates a skill Ceres implements better than many of their contemporaries – making a simply composed track stand out based on incredible performances above all else.
Even among a crowd of emo bands, Ceres hold a uniquely gut-wrenching quality, to which they can partially credit their darkly grounded lyrics. The chorus on ’91 Your House’ lays itself bare (“They’ll put you in the ground, but the dirt don’t deserve you”). Meanwhile, the end of ‘Loaf’ – a track Hotelier fans should enjoy – Lanyon circularly roars “If I told you I wanna die, would you come then, come if I…"”. In this regard, Smithies comparisons may be drawn with Ceres, though I will say Ceres are better at implementing the “keep it simple, stupid” idea in many places. For example, the quietly gorgeous ‘Loner Blood’ sounds analogous to the Smithies’ ‘Passiona’; though instead of waxing poetic, Ceres make lines as simple as “I’m happy for you now/ but goddamn, I wanna change” work equally in their favour.
From understated moments like ‘Us’ through the unbelievable closing track ‘Baby’s Breath’, ‘Drag It Down on You’ proves itself to be a deeply underrated effort. Ahead of their 2018 single Viv in the Front Seat, the band released a video on Facebook, whose voiceover states:
“I sort of thought I got to the bottom of everything on [Drag it Down on You], and that’s where I’d stay. (…) And then as it does, the clouds break, and you fall in love, and you find something to drag you up off the bottom again.”
For Ceres, their emotional bottom just happens to have produced an incredible musical high point than any habitual punk or emo listener should check out.