Words: Doug Wallen
Cult guitar-pop ensemble The Ancients celebrate their first album in nearly five years with an evocative clip marrying gig footage and city nights.
The last we heard from The Ancients was 2013’s Night Bus, another in a steady procession of slow-burn albums from the perennially underrated Melbourne band. Their new follow-up, Frozen Aisle, is even better, blending leader Jonathan Michell’s skewed breathiness and loopy, sloshing guitar lines with the luminous work of drummer Julian Patterson (Small World Experience, Minimum Chips), bassist Georgina Ward (Function Group, Moon Dice), guitarist Hamish O’Neill (Moon Dice, Isle Adore) and vocalist/keyboardist Sophie Perillo (Hi God People, Violet Crumble).
Recorded by John Lee between 2015 and 2017, the album kicks off with the dreamy and driving ‘I Need You’, a succinctly jammy calling card that packs a surprisingly earnest sentiment: “I need you / ’Cause I can’t stand this on my own.” Now there’s a video to go with it, and while it’s not quite as eccentric as the group’s previous one, it centres on smudged dissolves between live footage of The Ancients playing The Tote and fleeting shots of Melbourne’s skylines and passing trains at night.
Filmed by Michell and Thomas Mendelovitz of Milk Teddy on a consumer-level video camera dating back to the early 2000s, the clip is filled with roundabout touches like close-ups on torsos rather than on faces and sudden zooms in and out. It’s by no means your usual live-footage clip, which is appropriate because The Ancients are by no means your usual indie band. Their pleasant oddness runs much deeper, and though ‘I Need You’ finds them at their most urgently catchy, they’re still the kind of band that beguiles us with their quiet wilfulness.
Frozen Aisle, their first album for Brisbane label Tenth Court, follows suit – replete with heady low-key touches smuggled into drop-dead-gorgeous pop tunes. If there was ever a time to not sleep on The Ancients, it’s now.
Frozen Aisle is out now on cassette and digitally via Tenth Court.
Banner image: Alanna Lorenzen