Ceremony, “The L-Shaped Man”

The L-Shaped Man

The idea of hearing a hardcore band revel in their failed relationships feels about as fresh and thrilling as a new season of The Real World. But ferocious, brainy California post-punk quintet Ceremony have never subjected themselves to their genre’s limitations; if anyone can pull this off, it should be them. But, the band’s revisionist identity is precisely what makes The L-Shaped Man such a disappointing listen. Ceremony easily make the transition to the dark and brooding waves of Joy Division–inspired tracks, but they do very little to test the boundaries of what is now a long-established and worn sound. In effect, the group have traded angsty reformation in one genre for the rote orthodoxy of another. Still, the album is not totally without its charms. The group barrel along behind singer Ross Farrar’s lead, building their charge on narrative—not musical—trajectory. Which means there’s no cathartic moment, no instance of relief, nothing to sing along to. Just the breakdown.


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