Following their 2007 sophomore attempt entitled On Letting Go, Circa Survive went back to the studio last year and recording their next full-length record, Blue Sky Noise. The Anthony Green-led quintet features the ex-Saosin frontman’s soaring vocals and guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom’s airy and elaborate fret work riding on top of Nick Beard (bassist) and Steve Clifford’s (drummer) accentual rhythm playing. Circa Survive knows their sound well and can pull it off with finesse, but unfortunately, it seems that this sound is the only one they can convey. Fortunately for the band, the music that they produce is top-notch.
The main attraction for Circa Survive is, as it is for most bands, the lead singer, and in this case Anthony Green. His high-pitched voice is unique and discernable from the over-saturated crowd of other high-pitched singers that are oh-so-prevalent in this musical generation. His talent shines through with melodic signing and powerful screams (rare, but still there, though admittedly they are much more prevalent on his Saosin and The Sound of Animals Fighting recordings) which are both able to bend heart strings to his will.
Of course, what is a vocalist without an song to sing over? He is but a car without a road to drive on, a stream without a hill to run down? It’s beauty with no direction. But thankfully this car has a highway, this stream a mountain, this vocalist a masterpiece. The guitar work of both Frangicetto and Ekstrom has become more intricate on this album, both in the individual sense and when viewed (or heard) as a whole. The lines weaving in and out between each other, sometimes one playing chords while the other leads, sometimes neither follow and both work together to create the atmospheric and ethereal sound that Circa is known for.
Blue Sky Noise takes both of these elements and perfects them, making the Circa Survive sound set in stone, the only problem is that this is their only sound. Sure, there is some variation, there’s the upbeat and happy songs such as “Get Out” and “Imaginary Enemy” as well as the more airy, slowed down tunes like “Spirit of the Stairwell” and “Dyed in the Wool” but generally speaking, most songs sound similar and samey. This would be fine for a single album, but it spans all 3 full lengths and gets somewhat tiresome. As an avid Circa Survive fan it’s difficult to be upset about having more of what I love, but I believe that bands need to progress and grow and Circa feels like a record on repeat.
Retracing the footsteps of previous releases, Circa Survive have created a pleasurable listening experience that exacts the formula that has been getting them praise since 2004. The vocals roar high and delve deep into the soul, the guitars relax and excite you all at once, the mood is laid back and fun, it is Circa Survive jsut as you’ve always known them. Hopefully the next release will vary more from the set standard, but if not it will still be a solid record.