“We Are a Team” is the third album that I never thought we would see from Melbourne-based Ceres.
Both their earlier efforts, 2016’s “Drag It Down On You” and 2014’s “I Don’t Want to Be Anywhere but Here,” were rougher, more classic pop-punk that characterized the dark emotion and contradictions of heartbreak, with stand out songs “Jam Song” and “I Feel Fine, I Feel Sick” making a name for Ceres in the burgeoning Australian punk and garage rock scene.
“We Are a Team” has a more hopeful tone throughout its tracks. The lead singles still deal with heavy topics (“Viv in the Front Seat” was written by frontman Tom Lanyon after his girlfriend lost her parents: the titular Viv was her father, an artist, and Lanyon got the idea for the song while packing his car’s front seat with his old sketches ), but Lanyon does seem genuinely happy. On a related note, Viv contains arguably the best line on the album: “I felt my life change.” Clever, to the point, and representative of the development of the band as a whole, Viv is by far my favorite track on the album, though a case could be made for all of the singles.
The second single, “Kiss Me Crying.” is perhaps the best song to look at Ceres’ transformation – but perhaps journey is the better word here. The song, ostensibly about the existential issue of death, is really a love song. It runs with the theme that Lanyon started to explore with Viv, but dives into how his girlfriend had changed who he was and why he wants to see her when he’s on his deathbed. Its beautiful and melancholic lyrics are placed against an upbeat backing track, and the contrast between the two keeps me mumbling the words throughout the day.
The album is perhaps not as deep as it could have been, and is carried by those three singles. A 2011 alternate track for “Collarbone,” originally released on the 2014 EP “Selfish Prick”, does not quite stand up to the original, though thematically it does fit. While the guitar work on “Dancing Patterns” is fantastic, the song runs on the long side, and the lyrics fall short of living up to the stage that the backing track offers.
The beginning and ending tracks (“Marriage” and “Something Good”) that bookend the album are perhaps the best non-single songs that came with the album, again highlighting the more positive tone that Ceres and Lanyon are running with. “I Feel Better Outside”, the longest song on the album at just under six minutes, is also worth taking a listen to, replicating the format of the singles in such a way that you don’t even notice the length.
Lanyon and his mates have put out a competent and compelling record, and broken out of the stereotypical angry and brooding pop-punk mold in a refreshing way, without forgetting the roots of their previous two albums.