Ohio four-piece The Ophelias will release their new album Crocus on September 24th via Joyful Noise Recordings. A twelve-track indie-folk LP, Crocus has layers of both pathos, strings, horns, winds and synths, oozing of confidence, since their 2018 critically acclaimed Almost. The process was different too. Spencer Peppet (she/her) and new bassist/longtime music video collaborator Jo Shaffer (they/them) live in different cities, while drummer Mic Adams (he/him) and violinist Andrea Gutmann Fuentes (she/her) remained in Ohio.
The Ophelias purposefully focused on the experimental, communal spirit that fuelled their first record. This is the notable thread in their music. It’s lovely, however, to hear the aesthetic developments, and textural aspect to the music. If we consider, for example, The Twilight Zone, which is more of a stripped down intimate track; it still utilises almost every sonic tool at their disposal. The band reached out to a slew of talented musicians to help flesh out the record, from classically trained bassoonists to friends they’d known since grade school, and these collaborations have widened their community.
With a flavour of Roddy Woomble, Idlewild and The Unthanks, as well as The Be Good Tanyas, The Ophelias have a raw, vulnerable, delicate but a strength in sound. Having come a distance to widen this community is obvious with this LP and only opens the door to make more intimate vibes possible. The opening title track threads that needle deftly, simultaneously imagining a present where a past love aches as much as you do, and hoping for a future without remorse. Gutmann Fuentes’ violin mirrors the waves and crests of the song, underscoring the lyrics with layered and precise arrangements. Crocus is a wonderful opener.
Neil Young is High is weighted, reflective and one of my personal favourites on the album. Clad in strings and percussion, it builds as a track forcing Peppet to amplify her vocals and put them out there for the listeners, in a way we don’t often hear. Biblical Names, intimate and raw, carries a heavy tone, but touches on much of the formidable in a relationship broken. Becoming a Nun is something most women jest or carry as a threat at some point in her life, clearly a song that explores the feelings coming out of a relationship. Allowing us in, these tracks all harness a vulnerability that anyone should feel privileged to be subjected to. Crocus shows us not only a growth but a strength in putting out there the most intimate of difficult feelings. An LP of textural layers, delicate emotions, and rippling community of talent, it’s easy to see the acclaim in the works of The Ophelias. Crocus is certainly the second confident LP in more ways than one.
Crocus is out on 24th September via Joyful Noise Recordings, you can pre- order it here.