Circa Survive

On Letting Go

Written by: PP on 19/07/2007 22:02:21

Anthony Green is a God. At least when it comes to singing and lyricism. The way he handles his unique voice at the kind of heights he does is nothing short of amazing, but that we already knew from his time in Saosin when they recorded "Translating The Name EP", which today is considered to be the best emo record of all time by many critics including the undersigned. Some argued that his voice was still too young and full of angst at this stage, but those critics were silenced by his solidified, yet still amazing as ever vocal work on Circa Survive's debut album "Juturna", which coincidentally is also among the favorites of this writer. However, there were flaws on that album, and one of the major ones was that the band couldn't match the talent their vocalist had. Aside from a few jaw-dropping tracks, the instruments didn't have the same ear-catching qualities as Anthony's voice, and thus the album was received to mixed reviews across the internet. But nobody could deny that the talent was there - tracks like "Act Apalled" belong to the elite of post-hardcore today. That talent has now been realized in the form of their sophomore album "On Letting Go", which despite monumental expectations, sees the band fill the big shoes in front of them better than anyone thought possible.

"Living Together" opens the album with what must be the most memorable Circa riff to date, immediately setting it straight that this record is something really big. The sound is massively spacey without sounding inflated or overproduced, and is a textbook example of how to use quiet/loud dynamics to your advantage. They lead straight into Anthony's high-pitched voice, straight away giving us an example of his incredible lyrical talent: "It starts out like a season in reverse". He whispers soothingly, sings the medium-range parts solidly, and his high-pitch croons that just barely don't break into flat-out screaming are mind blowing. "In The Morning And Amazing" is much faster, and opens with some of the best vocal work Anthony has done to date. He opens with an incredibly solid "Infinite siiiiiiiiiileeeeeeeeeeence" shout that just seems to casually float on top of the fast, aggressive instruments (on the Circa Survive scale) despite its strength. "The Greatest Lie" starts out with an old Saosin-style alternating guitar line before the limelight is switched on Anthony's poetic lyrics again: "This building smelled so familiar". It's so simple but yet something about that line pushes all of my buttons right, especially when Anthony stresses the last word by variating his pitch - it feels like a nice tickle inside your ears. We're three songs in and I've already decided to rate this album 9½ - as long as the rest of the album lives up to the preposterously good beginning.

"The Difference Between Medicine.." leans more towards the space-rock side of Circa and beholds the standard set earlier. Anthony is once again central to making the experimental sound scape work, as his voice shifts in crescendo and diminuendo according to the music, leading to orgasmically high croons contrasted by soothing quiet passages, working as the epitome of quiet/loud dynamics. "Mandala" is a slightly more experimental track to contrast a more conventional track "Travel Hymn", which still has a great chorus. By the 7th track "Semi-Constructive Criticism" the album has calmed down significantly from the explosive beginning, as also evident on the quiet "Kicking Your Crosses Down". As the instruments turn more acoustic, Anthony's voice gets more room, and by this point I don't think I need to mention anymore what that means to the song quality. In short time, this track has become one of my favorite semi-acoustic tracks of the past few years.

I rarely tend to reach the title track on the album for two reasons. Either I've been so overwhelmed with insanely good tracks that once I reach "Kicking Your Crosses Down" I need to press repeat to hear that half of the album again, or I just think the first four tracks of the album are so awesome that I place all my focus on them. While the rest of the album is some of the best avant-garde post-hardcore you'll hear, many people will be drawn to Anthony's impossibly good vocal performances in the earlier tracks over and over again. But I don't blame them, because there are no other vocalists in the world capable of pulling off what Anthony does on the first half of the album.

One of the reasons why I've been putting off reviewing this album for so long is because I wanted to make sure it stands the test of time. Three months later, I'm still grasping new aspects of the album that have previously gone unnoticed. It is a true signpost for post-hardcore bands: this is what you are all striving to achieve, as it is almost certainly the best album to be released in 2007. Suddenly I don't find myself wishing that Anthony would re-join Saosin anymore.

Download: In The Morning And Amazing, The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is In The Dose, Kicking Your Crosses Down
For the fans of: Saosin, Days Away, The Receiving End Of Sirens
Listen: Myspace

Release date 29.05.2007
Equal Vision

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