The Ancients

Night Bus

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The Ancients are the kind of group that doesn't try very hard to hide its influences. A spin of the band's second album, Night Bus, lets the listener know right away that the Australian combo's roots lie deep in the world of shoegaze and dream pop. All throughout the album it's easy to spot the loping power of Ride, the hazy textures of MBV, the soaring pop of Chapterhouse, and the sweet vocal harmonies of Slowdive. There is some of Moose's lazy storytelling style and a few modern bands in there as well, like fellow countrymen Tame Impala. From these touchstones, it's fairly easy to guess what the band might sound like, but what the Ancients can't do is convey how well they take all these influences and craft something fresh and exciting out of them. Guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Michell writes super-hooky songs that stick on first listen, the bandmembers that surround him are equally adept at making a supercharged racket or laying back and whipping up some atmosphere, and the variety of sounds and moods is very, very impressive. After even the first listen, the overall takeaway is that if the group were around in 1991 making albums this thrilling, shoegaze fans would be talking in the same reverent tones about them that they do about the bands previously mentioned. At the very least, the unstoppably catchy "Hey Now" would be popping up on soundtracks and lodged deep in memory banks, because it would have been an alt-rock hit for sure. Other songs fare almost as well, especially the rollicking "Hamster" and the dream-inducing "She Lives in a Tent." With a timeless sound, a lack of weak moments, and a strong hand guiding the band's crystal-sharp vision, Night Bus is a step forward from a band that seems destined for further greatness. Of course, one could have said that about Chapterhouse, too. Maybe it'll work out this time....

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