Review Summary: Those who desire a release with a surprising amount of innovation or depth will find this album lacking; those who desire a fun release with a few progressive tendencies to boot will rejoice.
In the aftermath of the post-hardcore band, Saosin
, Anthony Green combined forces with members of the now-defunct This Day Forward
to create the Philadelphia-based Circa Survive. Combining aspects of indie, ambient, and alternative rock, the band began to experiment with textural differences and "progressive elements". This combination was essentially the whole of Juturna
the band's first full-length. Subject to mixed critical reception, many noted that Circa Survive was ambitious, but not original. Spacious elements seemed to be as far as any ambience went, and a cold riff here and there was an apparent substitute for a metal influence. This flaw was exemplified on On Letting Go
which was essentially impotent bombast. After this release, several lost faith in the band, but still the hype-train rolled on in just for Blue Sky Noise
. But for those who were doubtful, the main question was whether or not the band would create a new sound. Since their first two albums were nearly identical, it would shock a jaded skeptic if they did so. And if they did, even less of these skeptics would assume it to be any better than their former sound. Fortunately, skeptics can begin to forgive, as Blue Sky Noise
is the band's progress personified.
When examining Blue Sky Noise
in detail, it is apparent that Green and company have learned to craft songs that strike with math-rock precision, yet accentuate their pop sensibilities. Opener "Strange Terrain" is a spry example of Circa Survive’s intricacy, as are the chipper tunes of "I Felt Free". Here, Green's lyrics are reflective of the whole album: somewhat introspective, reflective, and ultimately a retrospect. Without changing much about his subject matter, his lyrical competence is far superior than before. Similarly, Green's vocals stylings follow suit. Still, his high-pitched voice soars, but this time, Green seems to have taken into account his band’s new pop punk oriented sound. However, Green’s voice does bring its fair share of problems.
First off, Green’s voice still alternates between an angst-ridden croon and a honey-sweet tone in a rather contrived way. And still, they come across as homogenous rather than extensive. The same goes for the musicianship. Though not as intrusive as before, some of the more progressive tidbits of this album seem haphazard. Electronics and acoustic instruments are rarely used to highlight the more obnoxiously jovial aspects of Blue Sky Noise
. The band’s third full-length has tapped into a palpable amount of powerpop, alternative rock, and pop punk. When combined, the result is slightly tepid, slightly cheesy mash of genres.
Blue Sky Noise
is the marriage between electric music variants, pop-punk, post-hardcore, some transethnic qualities, and acoustic music. However, the result of this pair is a surplus of tracks which oftentimes don't fit in. The instrumental "Copendium" isn’t inherently bad, it just barely fits the grand scheme of Blue Sky Noise
(if at all). "Glass Arrows" takes a minute flaw and accentuates it: Scanning between genres in a scatter-shot manner without purpose. Still, the real faults lie within "Get Out" and "Imaginary Enemy". Both show Circa Survive burning their potential and their progress with rehashed pop melodies, rarely delivering a solid hook. However, despite these flaws, Blue Sky Noise
isn’t actually that
Case in point: "Through the Desert Alone" shows Circa Survive striking a new chord. Here, subtlety is key. Though the song is comprised of progressive wankery and pop sensibilities, the composition allows for textural nuances and an evocative whole. Speaking of evocative wholes, Circa Survive has finally mastered the art of introspect and minimized pretense. What else, they finally exemplified their originality and omitted impotence. This combination is best shown on one of the album’s highlights, "Frozen Creek". Here, another guitar solo bridges chorus and verse, and the musicianship is adept. The combination sums up the positive aspects of the album: poppy choruses, exciting structures, and spry character. However, there are still pretentious, cheesy moments throughout, and at times, Blue Sky Noise
seems like just a run-of-the-mill pop-punk record without bark or bite. Those who desire a release with a surprising amount of innovation or depth will find this album lacking; those who desire a fun release with a few progressive tendencies to boot will rejoice.