Ohio band The Ophelias have announced they’ll release a new album called Crocus on September 24 through Joyful Noise. The news comes with a new single called “Neil Young on High”, which boasts harmonies from Julien Baker, whom they met in 2019 and reconnected with virtually during the pandemic. Her additions, while subtle, “reinvigorated the song completely,” according to The Ophelias’ singer Spencer Peppet, who continues: “she added lightness, openness, but also depth and complexity. It’s incredibly cool that she put so much care into those parts.”
On the meaning behind “Neil Young on High”, Peppet says: “After a relationship ended I would become obsessed with remembering every detail of the painful moments. I realised later that I don’t have to know what I was wearing or what song was playing to know that I was hurt deeply. I think “on high” means seeing someone as literally above you, better and cooler and more put together. I do love Neil Young, but in this case he represents a person, a time, a place.”
Wreathing the mournful guitar work with elegiac violins, The Ophelias immediately set a sombre but beautiful tone for “Neil Young on High”. They remain in this gorgeously gloomy atmosphere throughout, which adds weight and tangibility to Peppet’s words, as she picks through the residual pain of heartbreak and lists the regrets about the joyful moments she can’t remember, as she more vividly remembers the poetically mundane details. The Ophelias don’t need to do too much to wring out the pure emotion, they sweeten and sharpen the violin parts to bring a richness, while Baker’s lamenting tones only increase the depth of feeling. With those carefully chosen and arranged elements, “Neil Young on High” is a stirring song that promises subtle but impressive evolution for The Ophelias on their new record.