Ross Farrar, singer with California punks Ceremony, does a fine job of summing up their new album Zoo – streaming in full now over at Spin – in just one line from its centerpiece track “Adult”: “All of us move on.” Admittedly it’s taken out of context – the song is about growing up and having to give up the things you love – but that simple statement encapsulates the shift on the band’s fourth long-player from the brash, thrashy brutality of old to a more expansive, considered sound. It also serves as a brief, effective kiss-off to anyone small-minded enough to complain about their decision to sign with Matador: the days when hooking up with a bigger, more established label was seen as “selling out” are long gone, and Zoo is a typically bullish response to any such claims, a scabrous 35-minute blast of old-skool punk and scuzz-rock that should act as reassurance that – despite breaking out of the underground ghetto – they’re still firmly attached to their hardcore roots. The steadier tempos and surf guitars carried over from 2010’s breakthrough release Rohnert Park might annoy some purists – this is, after all, a group whose debut album Violence Violence featured thirteen songs in thirteen minutes – but fans of punk (and, on the evidence of Joy Division-aping closer “Video”, post-punk) new and old will find plenty to enjoy in Zoo’s references to both the classic Brit combos of the genre’s golden age (Sex Pistols, the Clash) and the American garage rockers (the Stooges, Sonics) who, in turn, influenced them. Growing up might mean moving on, with all the countless changes of priority and allegiance that entails, but as Ceremony prove here it certainly doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you love.
Zoo is out March 6 on Matador Records