Get into the celebratory sound of the Portland band
Ages and Ages aren’t on track to be an overnight success, but that doesn’t faze them in the least.
The band has been spreading their own gospel since 2009, building up a following in Portland, Ore. — and by “following,” we mean “cult.” Ages and Ages craft actively sunny songs built on complex harmonies, inspired choral arrangements, seven-part harmonies and a distinct “Up With People” vibe. Not that that’s a bad thing — far from it, in their case.
The band — led by Rob Oberdorfer and Tim Perry with John McDonald, Levi Cecil, Annie Bethancourt, Sarah Riddle and Becca Shultz — developed some buzz after a track from their debut album was included on President Obama’s 2012 Campaign Spotify playlist (alongside artists like Bruce Springsteen, Darius Rucker and Aretha Franklin). Now, with a move to Partisan Records, the band is looking to push past their Portland niche and into steady rotation around the world.
It’s a goal they should be able to achieve on the strength of their forthcoming album, Divisionary, due out March 25. As the band coped with the loss of a number of family and friends, they worked on their album; instead of of dwelling on sorrow, the songs play like a guiding light leading people out of darkness. Their inspired arrangements, coupled with the emotional subject matter, make for a bracing listen.
The debut single from the album, “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)” is a self-described secular gospel song with inspirational harmonies, stirring piano and violin sounds and a simple, encouraging chorus: “Do the right thing, do the right thing / Don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering.” It’s inspirational but far from cloying, with an invigorating, driving tempo. The tracks of Divisionary play like a church camp singalong with a deeply anarchical bent. Think: The Polyphonic Spree with the fervent upbeat tempo of an Icona Pop song fronted by Jack White.
Their new track, “I See More”, which TIME is debuting today, is a brisk indie-folk song with the band’s trademark choral sound, seven-part harmonies and an upbeat ’60s rock revival bent. It’s hard not to tap your toes along to the beat, which is exactly what the band had in mind.