With audible bewilderment, Matt Gravolin asks “Where the fuck are all my friends?”. The memorable line comes from “Sydney”, the latest offering from Agnes Manners. Filling in the blanks of what Agnes Manners is about, where “As Long As You’re Mine” wrapped the listener in sentiments of unconditional love, “Sydney” takes a harsher and more troubled perspective on life and captures a moment just before a leap of change.
The song’s title reflects the city Matt lived in before his relocation to Melbourne, and lyrically the song captures his experience at the time. Referring to that moment in his life as “particularly excessive”, there are lyrical toasts to tools of inebriation and intoxication, and revelations of paranoia after that indulgence. To my ears, “Sydney” oozes unspoken questions like ‘Is this all there is?’ and ‘Who can I trust?’, as well as sharing unfiltered observations and feelings.
“It’s so conspiratorial, competitive, and typical”
Set sweetly to strings, piano, and simple guitar at first, a relatively charming and rose-hued atmosphere lurches forward into desperation with the arrival of John Floreani’s (Trophy Eyes) voice. Far more than just a token feature, having the two voices combined on “Sydney”‘s sentiment offers real-world relevance, given John has also relocated to Melbourne. The two sing of there being “nothing here” in Sydney, and suffering due to the lack of “light”. This reference to light and the absence of it, as well as the line “If all we have is each other” make it a perfect follow up to “As Long As You’re Mine”.
In the process of creating “Sydney”, the two friends had worked together on the song in Melbourne. This evolved organically into John lending his voice to the song with both being at Karma Sound Studios at the same time. Ending with the statement of “What’s left.” (with notable absence of question mark..) coupled with audio of ocean waves and vomiting, the song comes across as both a purge and an acceptance of a door closing.
With two slices so far, and still more to come, the Agnes Manners world is taking shape as something authentically human; whether the perspective is unrelenting adoration or puking up one’s guts. The mainstay of vulnerable honesty is further cemented with “Sydney” and these two minutes put a smile on my face with every listen.
“Sydney” is available via all streaming services now. We recommend heading to Bandcamp, where buying the track (for a price of your choosing) has proceeds going to the David Dungay Junior Campaign.