Circa Survive

Blue Sky Noise

Written by: PP on 26/05/2010 07:20:20

You know why I've ranted about high pitch vocalists like a broken record lately? It's because they all try to be this guy, God himself when it comes to emo vocalists, and fail miserably at giving a performance anywhere close to the kind that Anthony Green gives here, on the third Circa Survive album "Blue Sky Noise". Their previous album "On Letting Go" was (and still is) near perfect experimental emo with only a minor cosmetic flaw or two keeping it from a perfect score, a true landmark and signpost in the genre that has inspired dozens upon dozens of essentially clone bands. So how do you follow up on such a monumental release? Well, in Circa Survive's case, you flip the bird at much of the experimentation of their past, and instead write even stronger melodies than before, allowing Green the spotlight his angelic voice has deserved since the early Saosin years. That's not to take anything away from the rhythm section because many of the guitar melodies and soundscapes are staggeringly gorgeous and take the listener on a journey of floating optimism and sonic beauty. But really, "Blue Sky Noise" cements Circa Survive as The Anthony Green Band. Is anyone complaining? I'm not.

It should probably be mentioned that despite Green's breathtaking vocals having improved yet again to an unfathomable level, it's unlikely that the new record will have as much of an impact as "On Letting Go" simply because that album really exploded Circa Survive onto the faces of every scenester out there, plus a whole bunch of 'normal' people not usually associated with music of this style. It was just too good to be ignored, and as such, it's easy to perceive "Blue Sky Noise" as a mild let down. But then again, the first three tracks of the release are among the most incredible tracks I've heard this year. "Strange Terrain" offers a floaty melody and introspective lyrics ("we read the signs completely backwards, nobody could see if we ended up where we needed to be to find out how it all works..."), "Glass Arrows" showcases some brooding bass-work contrasting high-pitch guitar melodies and Anthony's strained croon, and "Get Out" is simply a lesson in how to write a lyrical masterpiece, and I quote:

"lock myself up in a room without a window just to see if it was any easier to breathe...I was wrong! Never underestimate the daylight. There is so much easier to breathe - YEAAAH - I can't wait to understand the reason. I've yet to translate any meeaaaning besides, it's not worth it to try. Get out."

The songs vary from being soft and emotional to slightly more experimental, but are all characterized by extremely strong melodies that carry the album forward. "I Feel Free" is a good example of the former, and although it's dreamy melody line is superb, it suffers from being located straight after the explosive start. Then follows a section where Circa Survive feels a little like on autopilot in places, falling for slightly too minimalistic instrumental landscapes for my taste, but even here the listener is faced with the fact that even when Circa Survive aren't at their best, they are still pretty fucking good. I mean listen to that chorus in "Through The Desert Alone" or "Frozen Creek"? Jesus.

In a perfect world the band would keep this up all the way until the end of the disc, but unfortunately the slope starts becoming slippery towards the end of the record. The songs are either too slow and uneventful in comparison to the best tracks on the album, and although quiet/loud dynamics are heavily played on, the songs fail to grab your attention as thoroughly as before. This is best exemplified in the mediocre-at-best "Fever Dreams", where the band inexplicably goes for a tribal feel which doesn't fit the band at all. From here onwards, I'm having trouble identifying myself with the songs as the band goes for a more acoustic, definitely more experimental approach to songwriting. I've read reviews which praise this section of the album to skies, but for me, it doesn't hold a coin to earlier sections where the band in many places outdo the astonishing material from "On Letting Go". That's why I can't find it in me to rate this album higher than just rock solid, despite the insanely good first half of the record.


Download: Strange Terrain, Get Out, Glass Arrows
For the fans of: Secret & Whisper, Isles & Glaciers, Saosin
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.04.2010
Atlantic Records

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