Minimal on Music, Heavy on Emotion
Ceremony’s L-Shaped Man is a mix of easy listening indie. It’s very much a nod to new wave 80s and the Smiths. For a band that’s more accustomed to a harder rock sound, they pull off the minimalist alternative vibe effortlessly.
“Hibernation” starts the album off with a one-minute intro track; it’s simply vocals and a piano that play no more than five notes. “Bleeder” relies more on the relationship between the rumbling bass and the warm, lighthearted lead guitar, which is more indicative of the rest of the album. Oddly enough, the track “Separation” begins the most up-tempo and upbeat musically despite the melancholy lyrics. The echo of “can you measure the loss” speaks to the overriding theme of unrequited love and heartbreak from track to track.
“The Pattern” is probably the most modern indie track on the album. It has a high-pitched four-chord progression that allows for occasional guitar solos and showcases the repetition of the lyrics, “It’s happening again.” “It’s happening again” haunts the listener and reinforces the heartbreak motif. “Root of the World” is the most telling of Ceremony’s progressive rock roots due to the borderline yelling aspect of the vocals at passionate points of the song. “The Party” is more drum heavy and phaser-tastic than the rest of the album.
There are clear surf rock influences in the echoing guitar intros and the mystical strumming. Vocalist Ross Farrar sort of resembles David Bowie, a la Space Oddity. For the majority of the album, the vocalist stays in a low register and only reaches out of that range for a couple tracks like “Root of the World.” Ceremony creatively composed songs with a guitar that exuded a much more sunny disposition than its lyrics. This album is an unequivocal break-up album with all the tales of falling to familiar, but not ideal, patterns, and being at the losing end of a love life debacle.