Monday, May 3, 2010
Circa Survive-Blue Sky Noise
For those not totally up to date on scenester trivia, Saosin was originally founded by a guy named Anthony Green, who was the original vocalist, began the hype around the band, and quit before they were able to record their first full-length. Green then went on to begin five million side projects, but it was clear that his heart was with Circa Survive. Much to the disappointment who thought Green would be the salvation of Hot Topic-era hardcore, Circa Survive had nothing in common with any type of -core. In fact, it was pretty mellow. It was also pretty boring, unless you were a sucker for a few catchy hooks backed up by decently complex instrumental performances (I was).
Enter Blue Sky Noise. For those familiar with Circa Survive's past efforts, expect a kick in the face right off the bat with the opening salvo that is "Strange Terrain". It's immediately apparent that this is different. Gone are the monotonous verses and ponderous song structures. Instead, it feels like this is what Anthony Green was trying to achieve all along: layered, complex alternative music with an experimental twist. Again looking at "Strange Terrain", it has that wonderful but all-too-rare quality of being immediate yet deep. The hook-laden chorus is backed up by a chorus of Anthony Greens providing delicious vocal harmony yet adding a hint of aggression to the song. The instruments have improved drastically, with the guitars never for a moment sacrificing that noodling harmony that made them so appealing back on "Juturna". The drums actually carry the weight of the song and drive it forward instead of being a formality like they were on "On Letting Go".
But for all this, the most drastic improvement comes from Anthony Green himself. His signature high-pitched vocals are as flawless as ever; even the most hardened Circa Survive hater would admit that the vocal performance on the last two albums was pristine. No, it's the lyrics that really shine through on "Blue Sky Noise". I've always thought Anthony Green's lyrics had a certain poetic appeal to them. They didn't make sense, but somehow they were deeply resonant. This time, it seems Green's abstractions have been combined with a down-to-earth relatability associated with indie lyricists like Ben Gibbard. The newfound transparency of the lyrics allows them to add to that wistful melancholy that Circa Survive have always been aiming for and brings the music to a more personal level. Take "The Longest Mile" as an example:
I must admit now going down within this ship/I couldn't have a better crew to travel with/If I make it in one piece back to land/I will never sail again.
Gems like that coalesce perfectly with the summery, mournful aura of the song. In short, this is everything Circa Survive has been trying to make since "Juturna". It finally feels like Anthony Green's reasons for leaving Saosin have been realized; and the payoff is something nobody expected at this point.