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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Old Ceremony

Band crafts charming pop on “Age”

The Old Ceremony has been a mainstay in local music for several years now. Its fourth album, Tender Age, is an amalgamation of many of the good qualities that have shaped the band so far.

The album is filled with small quirks that make for an entirely lively and unexpected listening experience, bringing a new level of craftsmanship and innovation that earlier the Old Ceremony albums lacked.

“Guo Qu,” one of the most musically arresting songs on the album, opens with mournful, Oriental-sounding violins and turns into a lilting guitar and violin ballad sung entirely in Chinese.

“Wither on the Vine, Part 2,” has definite radio and commercial appeal thanks to acoustic guitar echoed by gentle banjo plucking that brings to mind the successful stylings of the Avett Brothers. And the slinky and devil-may-care swagger of “Good Time to Leave” sounds like it should be sputtering out of an old-time jukebox in a rock ‘n’ roll bar.

Even when singer Django Haskins sings about topics like relationship problems and loneliness, there’s an eagerness and energy to all the songs that belies the serious topics sprinkled throughout.

Detractors could chalk it up to insincerity on the band’s part, but instead, it feels like the Old Ceremony is having too much of a good time to bother with melancholy, making it easy for the listener to engage in the material.

Clocking in at around an hour with most of the 14 songs close to four minutes, the record runs long and could do without some of the filler at the end of the album.

Indeed, the last five songs seem more like an excuse for the band to jam and play around aimlessly, causing more than a little wear and tear on the listener’s patience.

“Gone Go The Memories” especially lacks the charisma and signature flair so present in the rest of the songs, and closes the record on a disconcerting flat note — even though it boasts guest vocals from members of The Love Language, Schooner and Annuals.

But it’s still not enough to detract from the record’s charm. Tender Age is proof that the Old Ceremony remains adept at producing the kind of upbeat pop that has made it such a staple in the Chapel Hill music community, and if the group’s latest is any indication, the band will be crafting sunshiny pop long into the future.

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