As far as bands go, Agnes Manners have had something of a rather quick turnaround throughout 2020. First debuting back in May, the group is the brainchild of Matthew Gravolin, the founding guitarist and vocalist of Sydney’s Hellions.
As with any artist who launches a new band, it’s logical to assume there would be some sort of bleed-through from a stylistic point of view. After all, with years spent as a member of a group like Hellions, it’s easy to make assumptions as to what this new project would sound like. However, considering Gravolin’s material had piled up after being unable to find a perfect outlet for it in Hellions, it was anyone’s game as to what it could sound like.
For Agnes Manners though, the result was something incredibly eclectic. Described as an “experimental folk rock quartet”, the group’s tunes vary between each and every song, with Gravolin and guitarist Lachlan Monty showcasing their softer side by way of a debut performance with Rolling Stone’s ‘In My Room’ series last month.
Just mere months after their debut though, Agnes Manners have now shared their debut album, Fantasia Famish. A strong debut for a group whose name was unknown to all and sundry at the start of the year, it’s an unexpected arrival for 2020, but a welcome one nonetheless.
Kicking things off with “Evergreen”, the record almost begins as a way to help ease in fans of Gravolin’s time in Hellions thanks to a somewhat subdued, but no less effective, post-hardcore sound. Before long, the group begin to flex their musical muscles to show what they’re truly capable of. “As Long As You’re Mine” serves as a soulful, lovelorn anthem (complete with brass instrumentation), while “Sincerity In Retrograde” takes on a more orchestral lean, and “Lime Light” shows what Agnes Manners can achieve with a minimal setup.
Of course, Fantasia Famish doesn’t simply exist as an exercise in experimentation, with the addition of Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani and Dream State’s CJ Gilpin helping to pin down the sound that Gravolin might be better known for.
The end result is arguably a strong debut that serves as a testament to the hard work demonstrated by Gravolin, Monty, and bandmates Alexander Trail and CJ James. Indeed, it could easily serve as the next chapter in an already storied career for a band, which makes the fact it’s simply their debut record all the more impressive.
Though it remains to be seen what’s next for Agnes Manners, an album like Fantasia Famish proves that local music is in safe hands, with plenty more good things still to come.
Agnes Manners’ Fantasia Famish is out now.