Circa Survive’s latest full-length ‘Violent Waves’ ends up being exactly what the title says. While this band hasn’t changed the core of their sound, and fans will undoubtedly love it, Violent Waves is a solid album that reflects the years of musicianship Circa Survive has under its belt.
‘Birth of an Economic Hit Man’ starts the album out with seven minutes of ups and downs, giving a fairly clear indication of what this album has to offer. There is no constant. From song to song you’ll find highs and lows, soft and loud, happy and sad. Even the album artwork clues you in to what you’ll hear: the rhythm of riding on a ship through an unpredictable ocean. But I’m getting too abstract; the key to this success of this album ends up being the balance Circa Survive achieves in the midst of the stormy sea they create.
Take ‘Suitcase’ and ‘The Lottery,’ for example. ‘Suitcase’ is has a delicate, vulnerable quality, especially when Green sings, “I’m buried in your clothes/will you take me with you when you go?”. This hint of vulnerability is tinged with a bitterness you can almost taste as the simplicity of the arrangement and Green’s soft voice and the honesty of the lyrics don’t try to outshine the other. ‘The Lottery’ on the other hand, immediately hits you in the face with pounding drums and sharp guitar, funk elements and aggressive sounds. In each song, the band chooses an aspect to focus on, striking a perfect balance where no one element is overpowering.
This balance is found throughout the album, within each song and in the album as a whole. However, there are two tracks that break out of the expected. ‘Sharp Practice’ features a funk-infused breakdown, a catchy chorus, rollicking melodies, and pounding rhythms that don’t fit in with the rest of the albums style. ‘Phantasmagoria’ comes off as a folky, indie sounding song with a breakdown that incorporates about a dozen different musical genres. In both of these instances, it seems that Circa Survive is trying to reach a little further out of their comfort zones, searching for new sounds to add to their repertoire without changing their fundamental qualities.
‘Violent Waves’ certainly delivers what it promises. The range of emotions this album delivers is powerful, passionate, and honest, and you can hear it both in Green’s voice and the guitars and drums. While some tracks don’t stand out as much as others, they all manage to hold their own. ‘Violent Waves’ album is neither groundbreaking nor expected, but somewhere in the middle; right where one wave ends and the other begins.
‘Violent Waves’ by Circa Survive is available now on iTunes.
Words by Jenny Gagas (@Jenny_herself)