Review Summary: "Juturna" is a passable attempt at creating a progressive indie album, sometimes achieving greatness, but most often wallowing in self-righteousness that doesn't realize its replicating far greater bands that have preceded it far too closely.
To be quite honest, Tanslating the Name
by Saosin really wasn’t that great. It featured a pretty raw band with a pretty raw singer, and despite the promise they both showed, it ended up being a fast, aggressive, poppy mess. When the two heads (the band and the singer) split up, everyone could only fear for the worst from the now Anthony Green-less Saosin, and expected massive things from the Scene King. After years of wait, Anthony Green’s new band Circa Survive released De-Loused in…
, er, Juturna
, while it took Saosin another year to release their first album, which ended up being self titled. Who ends up winning in the battle of pretentiousness?
Circa Survive certainly did try to take a bit of a higher road. Deciding his voice was too good for pop-punk nonsense, Green formed a strange combination of an indie band who had listened to way too much Mars Volta in their time. The guitars are all effects drenched to give extra atmosphere, often using guitar interplay similar to Fugazi or At the Drive-In. The drummer plays some pretty complex beats most of the time as well, a welcome change of pace from his compliment in the rhythm section, who goes largely unnoticed. Its all cappe off by a tremendous production job, which sees many sections in the album undergo extensive layering processes that does give the album an almost ethereal quality. Think dredg’s El Cielo
, except not quite as transcendent.
The album starts off well, with “Holding Someone’s Hair Back” featuring lots of sudden shifts and strange guitar noises and feedback. Green, at first, sounds incredible; he certainly fits this indie-aesthetic hella more than he did Saosin. “Act Appalled” is similarly good, except takes a more aggressive edge, with Green and co. showing off more of a modern post-hardcore bent. Of course, it sounds just like an older Saosin song, but you can’t fault Green for that really.
After those two songs, things quickly start going downhill. “Wish Resign” is boring as ***, and reveals probably the absolute biggest flaw on the album; Anthony Green only has two ways of ***ing singing. He literally goes from soft crooning, to a higher pitched angry tone. That’s all he’s got folks. Sure, some of the effects make it sound like he’s got more range, but in the end he’s either slightly-pissed off or getting ready for a Celine Dion concert. He’s certainly got a unique, catchy, and great voice, but if he can’t learn to make it a bit more varied, he’s going to have to stick to singing one song on The Sound of Animals Fighting albums.
Then, despite the proficiency in general of the musicianship, the band is constantly sounding like a weird cross between The Mars Volta and dredg. Every little neat musical trick the try to pull off has been done by The Mars Volta at least three dozen times (listen to “The Great Golden Baby” and tell me the part at 30 seconds wasn’t used in half of De-Loused in the Comatorium
). For every good, unique song they make (In Fear and Faith
is a superb tune; although once again “Cicatriz ESP"’s bridge is lifted almost straight), they make another three that end up being subpar. As mentioned earlier, the entire album has a strange inkling of being a homage to El Cielo
by dredg. The entire feel of that album has been combined with a bit more outward fierceness that ends up ruining any kind of mood the album tries to set up.
, taken out of context, is a good album. It has some catchy tunes (weighted heavily towards the beginning), Green has a great voice, and the band do a good job essentially backing him up. However, its really quite repetitive due to the fact there is only so much Green can do with his voice, and what his backup band (sorry, but this really is just a vehicle for a Green solo career) can do to support him. Meanwhile, Saosin
ends up capturing a lot of the magic that Translating the Name
had, with a singer who while not as unique or as good a songwriter as Green, fits them better. Its undeniably a pop-punk album, but it has hints of post-hardcore and metal that make its excellent guitar work stand out more than anything on Juturna
. The verdict? If your looking for the more “out there” album, Juturna
is the choice. If your looking for a far superior album, even if it’s a bit bland, take Saosin
Pick up “Holding Someone’s Hair Back”, “Act Appalled”, and “In Fear and Faith”.
Saosin: 1, Anthony Green: 0