Ohio band The Ophelias recently announced their new album ‘Crocus‘ is set for release Sept 24th via Joyful Noise Recordings and shared “Neil Young on High” from the record, which featured Julien Baker. Today, the group are sharing the second single & video “Sacrificial Lamb”.
On the new song, vocalist & guitarist Spencer Peppet said “Originally, I didn’t want ‘Sacrificial Lamb’ to be on the album, but Andrea and Mic pushed me to keep it. Andrea’s layered violins transformed the song beyond what I had imagined, and it quickly became a group favorite. That kind of collaboration on Ophelias’ songs is what makes them what they are. This song is a reflection on a night from my freshman year of college, walking home from a party and feeling overwhelmed by a rush of emotions: self-loathing, frustration at the person I wanted love and attention from, longing to be the cool, unaffected girl I wanted to be (and thought I could be if I tried hard enough). I got on the subway and cried, enjoying that no one on the train looked twice.”
And on the visuals for “Sacrificial Lamb”, Peppet added “Jo and I co-directed this video, and we wanted it to feel tongue-in-cheek and playful. We always appreciate a music video with a sense of humor, and wanted to emulate 90’s MTV mixed with slightly glamorous prop comedy. We filmed in January, when it was snowing and freezing cold. It made bouncing on the trampoline tough, but lent a cool texture to the outdoor scenes. We had lots of hand warmers in our pockets! Alex Halstead shot the video, and wanted to support the sense of humor by creating self-aware visuals through stagey, two dimensional compositions and stylized disco lighting.”
After 2018’s critically acclaimed Almost opened The Ophelias to a world beyond their Cincinnati home, the indie rock quartet craved a return to a sense of community. “It was surreal for this time capsule of events and feelings, songs written early in college, to be reviewed in outlets like the New York Times,” recalls vocalist/guitarist Spencer Peppet (she/her). The band members no longer lived in the same city—Peppet and new bassist/longtime music video collaborator Jo Shaffer (they/them) live in New York, while drummer Mic Adams (he/him) and violinist Andrea Gutmann Fuentes (she/her) remained in Ohio. In the time since Almost, a fair amount changed: the band members all graduated from college, Shaffer joined as the new bassist, and Adams came out as transgender and started HRT. So when it came time to record the candid, expansive Crocus (due September 24th via Joyful Noise Recordings), The Ophelias purposefully focused on the experimental, communal spirit that fueled their first record. Through songs equally infused with references to the Bible and TheTwilight Zone, The Ophelias wring mystic emotion out of the spaces between their past, present, and future.
Crocus retains the complexity of Almost, but revels in the newfound confidence bolstered by the growth and change the band has undergone. “Knowing that I was sharing this intimate side of myself with the world made me want to say exactly what I meant instead of relying on vague images,” Peppet muses. That candor shines on album highlight “Neil Young on High”, a track that finds Peppet’s firefly vocals backed by harmonies from Julien Baker. “I regret never celebrating/ Smaller victories that we saved/ I would do that part over,” Peppet sings, detailing the murky line between the things we mourn and the things we remember.
The Ophelias contrast that lyrical clarity with full arrangements, adding strings, horns, winds, and synths to their already robust compositions. But even on “The Twilight Zone”, which utilizes almost every sonic tool at their disposal, there is intimacy and community. 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 even in one case, the parent of a friend). “We are lucky to be surrounded by so many brilliant friends in our hometown— people whose musical sensibilities we really trust, and who also have a good feel for where we’re coming from stylistically in our music,” Gutmann Fuentes says. “It was exciting to invite them in on these songs and let them do their thing.”Through all of the collaborative whirl, the record keeps the four members of The Ophelias at its core and blossoms outwards with the help of their community.
Diverse influences have led the Ophelias further from the staid indie-pop realm. “As a collective we cover a lot of musical ground, in that we individually listen to a wide range of music. Even between the four of us, we have our own distinct sensibilities that set us apart from one another,” Adams says. “There are differences in what the songs in Crocus mean to all of us, and we incorporate elements of ourselves and our own stylistic tendencies into each song. So Andrea might be reminded of a fiddle part from a ’60s folk band at the same time Spencer is channeling Liz Phair.”
The band recorded at night in a converted and “2000 percent haunted” Masonic lodge, which surely had an effect on the album’s ability to weave darker tones through the taut song structures. Engineer John Hoffman kept spirits high at The Lodge KY, ensuring the Ophelias had the freedom to experiment in the gray area between pain and rebirth. Despite The Lodge’s eerie nature, the ghosts remain personal, finding Peppet facing herself and her truth without blinking. 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.
The Ophelias’ growth has been marked — so much has transformed and been rebuilt that the Ophelias feel like they’re eagerly reintroducing themselves to the world. “Crocus represents that state of flux, between dreaming and reality or internal reflection and external action,” Peppet says. “I had to wring this all out of my chest, and doing that is very vulnerable. But being in a band with such a strong sense of community, trust, care, and love makes that process a lot easier.”