Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise
Record Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: April 20, 2010
If there is one word that can describe the build-up and hype this album had before its release, I'd say it would be anxiety. A band's big jump to a major label could mean either a great success or a great failure. However, the Doylestown, PA quintet, Circa Survive, dove straight in with no intentions of backing out. The band features Anthony Green (vocals), Colin Frangicetto (guitar), Brendan Ekstrom (guitar), Nick Beard (bass), and Steve Clifford (drums) and they have done what many bands find difficulty in doing. Stay true to themselves.
The album kicks off with "Strange Terrain"; a solid and melodic way to start out. Immediately, fans will recognize the difference between this song and any song from the band's previous two releases. The opening song really sets the mood and atmosphere for the album and flows perfectly into the band's first single "Get Out". Figuratively speaking, this song is the album's punch in the mouth. Green's piercing vocals meld perfectly with the soaring guitar-work from both Frangicetto and Ekstrom. For as short as the song is, it definitely shows the band at their best. "Glass Arrows", again, features some great guitar work that keeps the song in perfect harmony with everything else surrounding it from start to finish. It shows several twists and turns and is an exciting track at the very least. The band slows it down with the honest "I Felt Free". Even while signed to a bigger label and having bigger responisibilities, Green manages to show off some solid songwriting that stays true to his roots and show a different side to the band.
Beard's bass line really defines "Imaginary Enemy" alongside Green's strong vocal delivery here. Another strong track in the vein of the aformentioned "Get Out", this song contains several sharp guitar riffs and drum fills from Clifford as well as the entire band putting forth much effort. "Through the Desert Alone" has such a dark vibe around it created by the synchronized instrumentation from the band, especially from Beard's bass work. The chorus really shines with the different harmonizations from Green and with Clifford's consatnt and impressive drumming, one can't help but tap their foot along with him. "Frozen Creek" follows a similar path to the ladder track and unveils more of the bands roots through the strange guitar riffs. This song is the perfect mix of old and new. The strangest song on the album and also the most unique, "Fever Dreams" has a driving riff, but due to such oddity, there is a loss of focus and strength in the song. Still, it is an interesting song nonetheless and is sure to give any listener a surprise.
The mellowness continues in "Spirit of the Stairwell", an acoustic track with one of the most dark and gloomy feelings on the whole album. There is a lot of concentration in the instrumentation and it goes hand-in-hand with Green's vocals producing a solid track. "The Longest Mile" picks the pace back up on the album, but it doesn't have the strength to really deliver the feeling found earlier in the album. The next song is more of an intro to the album's finale. "Conpendium" features no vocals whatsoever. Instead, it gives off a mysterious sound that opens the closer up to several possibilites. The album finishes with "Dyed in the Wool" and delivers what some of the previous tracks did not. There is more focus in this song and more harmony in the band. The guitar riffs are infectious, the drum fills are well-timed, Beard gives the song some backbone, and Green shows a lot of honestly and beauty in his delivery. This song takes the best parts of the album thus far and sums it all up in a finish that is sure to be remembered by the end of 2010.
So the band has gone towards a more mainstream direction. But is that bad? If so, then I will have to disagree. I can listen to this album time and time again and there is not a song on it that draws away from who Circa Survive really are. I hear more soul in this album than 2005's Juturna and 2007's On Letting Go. The band have improved on their songwriting as a whole and work in harmony with each other, rather than trying to play against each other. This album gives others a way to ease into Circa Survive's work if they have never heard it before. Circa Survive's Blue Sky Noise is, without a doubt in my mind, the band's most powerful work to date.
I just thought I'd let everyone know that this was my first review on this site. I know it's not too great, but I'll improve on that in time. I'm just really glad that the mods put it up so it seems that I at least met their expectations even though I forgot the band's myspace link haha :p
Any suggestions or tips though to improve my writing? Criticism as well. I would like to know what I did right and what I did wrong. Thanks in advance!
The cd is definitely a big change as to their previous works. I do believe it's a step in the right direction if they want to get more radio play. I am just surprised they added a mainstream sound to their songs without losing any of the Circa Survive-esque quality to their music.