With the descriptors “experimental” and “communal” having been applied to Cincinnati rockers The Ophelias’ debut album Almost—which somehow accurately lists “mermaid rock,” “Marxist rock,” and “nature punk” in its genre tags on Bandcamp, and which was produced by Cinci king Yoni Wolf—it’s these two facets of the band’s personality that feel most heavily present on the early singles from that album’s follow-up, Crocus. With a laundry list of collaborators (Julien Baker was featured on the record’s first single) contributing an array of new orchestral sounds to the band’s music, Crocus feels like a big step away from their debut collection of songs written during their college years.
The third sample of the LP, however, does take the four-piece back to their university days with the skeleton of “Vapor” coming together during 2015’s super blood moon. “This was the first song I wrote on the banjo,” shares Spencer Peppet of the song, which opens with a sparse banjo composition before exploding into a more familiarly Ophelian full-band piece in the final moments. “I completed the first draft in a Vocal Composition class in college, with the banjo and a group of friends singing harmonies and bird noises. The album version of ‘Vapor’ built off that experimentation. The strings in the end section use the parts originally sung by my classmates, and we fleshed it out with Jo’s bass part, piano, and building drums. An ambulance drove by while I was recording vocals—we kept it in. When I finally heard the end section in full, it felt like all the lights in the proverbial house turned on.”
Listen to the track below (keep an ear out for that siren), and pre-order the record here.