Circa Survive
Blue Sky Noise


3.5
great

Review

by Jeremy Price USER (33 Reviews)
April 18th, 2010 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forgive me such a cliche, but Blue Sky Noise is the Circa Survive album for people who don't like Circa Survive.

It’s worth mentioning that I chose to open my last review on this site, a review of Children of Nova’s The Complexity of Light, with the following sentence: “It’s somewhat ironic that Circa Survive have become the poster children for this whole indie/prog movement, when nearly every one of their contemporaries one-ups them in terms of technicality, songwriting, etc; (Closure in Moscow and The Dear Hunter immediately come to mind).” I mention this not to shill for my review or the band, but to give you a sense of where I’m coming from in terms of my relationship with Circa Survive: to be blunt, I don’t like them. My one prior bit of exposure to them was their debut album Juturna, an album I found incessant in its ability to sap the fun, energy and creativity out of a potentially fruitful musical style (and after hearing that followup On Letting Go was more of the same but a little worse, I wasn’t exactly incensed to the record store). So color me shocked and relieved to find out that Blue Sky Noise, the band’s latest outing, is actually not only tolerable, but actively engaging and invigorating. It’s not the most consistent record I’ve heard this year, but it gives me some hope that the ridiculous amount of hype the band has received over their career isn’t just, well, hype.

The album begins with a brilliant one-two punch in the way of “Strange Terrain” and “Get Out”, two of the album’s most accessible tracks, and also immediate standouts, with “Strange Terrain” in particular bouncing along with an energy and enthusiasm the band has rarely displayed. The guitar lines, painfully simple as they may be, also evoke a certain simple joy, and build wonderfully to an absolutely killer chorus. Anthony Green restrains his naturally high singing voice (to great effect), perhaps as something of a build-up to “Get Out”, which sees him unleashing it in all its nasally glory (OK, that’s unfair: Green is actually spot on throughout the record). Simultaneously heavy and poppy, it’s a natural choice for lead single, and features some surprisingly excellent musical moments as well, including a sublime slide guitar line during the chorus, a tapped bridge, and a pseudo-bluesy guitar riff in the outro; make no mistake, Circa Survive aren’t just The Anthony Green band anymore. Better yet is what “Strange Terrain” and “Get Out” indicate for the direction the band are going in; rather than get caught up in trying to create some epic progressive masterpiece, Blue Sky Noise sees Circa Survive finally having fun with their music.

That’s not to say that the album doesn’t have any progressive touches; rather, these touches are fleshed out into their own compelling tracks. “Through The Desert Alone” finds the band actually resembling the progressive outfits they’ve been struggling to emulate for years, complete with a great bass line courtesy of bassist Nick Beard. “Frozen Creek” is similarly a realization of long-kept ambitions from the band: they finally stop trying to write “Televators”, and in the process they ***ing write their “Televators”. “Frozen Creek” is a mixed blessing: on one hand, it could potentially be the album’s best track; on the other hand, it sets the bar so high that everything following it is a relative disappointment. That’s really the main problem with Blue Sky Noise: the momentum created by its excellent first half is thoroughly let down by its second. Following “Frozen Creek”, the album throws out a string of duds: “Fever Dreams” and “The Longest Mile” are fairly unremarkable in the overall picture of the album, while “Spirit of the Stairwell” is the more directly disappointing of the bunch. It attempts to invoke a soulful nature, but said soul feels hollow; the parts are all there, but they feel as though assembled by machines, not a band. “Spirit of the Stairwell” is more or less the opposite of “Frozen Creek”; in attempting to emulate a certain sound (rather than having said sound naturally occur), the song feels decidedly calculated. And while I admire the band for attempting an instrumental piece, “Compendium” feels just like an extended intro at best and completely unnecessary at worst. The album ends on a high note with “Dyed in the Wool” but it alone can’t save the album’s tragically uneven final songs from being overtaken by its first half. Still, while Blue Sky Noise doesn’t totally realize the grand ambition of its predecessors, it succeeds by dropping this ambition almost entirely, and instead focusing on delivering a killer collection of songs. I still don’t care for the cult of Green that has established around the band, but at the very least the utterance of the words “Circa Survive” in my company are no longer met with scoffs and fake poop noises. Hey, baby steps, right?



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user ratings (1695)
Chart.
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excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Acre
April 19th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Been trying to keep my reviews short recently. OK, now back to cramming for university finals.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2010


17945 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol closure in moscow kinda suck at songwriting

Acre
April 19th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You kinda suck at being cool. YEAH I WENT THERE.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2010


17945 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

is that what you call 'going there'

TheWayfarerElectric
April 19th 2010


154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you suck at not having premature ejaculation problems.

that's what i call going there.

Oceanus
April 19th 2010


877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Closure In Moscow get by on spunk rather than songwriting.

The review is good, but it seems inconsistent that you describe Frozen Creek as a "realization of long-kept ambitions from the band" when the impression given by the first paragraph is that you passed on On Letting Go and only had a "prior bit of exposure" to Juturna.

Other than that, I can definitely see where you're coming from. Alot of the fun in this album appears to come from the fact that I'm not drowning in a sea of reverb or delay the whole time.

Acre
April 19th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually ripped a friend's copy of Juturna, so I do have it on my computer. To be fair, I haven't listened to it a whole lot (mostly because I don't like it), but I did give it another spin while writing the review. Turns out, I still dislike it.

JWT155
April 19th 2010


9358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm with you in that this is a record people who've never liked Circa before (me) will love this.

Oceanus
April 19th 2010


877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Didn't intend to sound abrasive, just noting how it reads to me. Circa's always been a band that I liked more about 2-3 songs at a time rather than spinning the entire albums (because it felt samey). This album is different.

Acre
April 19th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't worry, wasn't trying to snap back at you (hope it didn't come off that way). Just wanted to make sure that it was clear that I had listened to Juturna a decent amount, before people accuse me of just passing a sweeping judgement based on one listen.

Oceanus
April 19th 2010


877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gotcha.

Transient
April 19th 2010


1461 Comments


i can't even make it through this whole album in one go

KTLL
April 19th 2010


87 Comments


Great review. I'm gonna have to check this album out, because I shared your views (albeit, I was a little more generous) with their previous albums.

sniper
April 19th 2010


19079 Comments


You said "Frozen River" instead of "Frozen Creek" the first time you mention the song. Otherwise, excellent review, your voice is cool.

Acre
April 19th 2010


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey, you're right. Thanks for catching that.

sniper
April 19th 2010


19079 Comments


No problem bro. I've never understood why this band gets compared to The Mars Volta, they really sound nothing alike apart from both having high-pitched vocalists.

StrizzMatik
April 25th 2010


3229 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best review for this tbqfh and I wholeheartedly agree with non-fans liking this, since I'm one of them. Band is ridiculously overhyped to the nth degree

Joshthehair
June 14th 2010


3 Comments


Tbh circa survive led me into the music I love today they opened a gate into a different style and genre of music. Although I do not love their 1st album I still believe it has some amazing moments. On letting go is for me an amazing album I just love the emotive power of the songs and he blend of instruments and vocals. I have been listenigto he new album and I think it's interesting as it's a step in a totally different direction tht will bear more fruits in albums to come as in places I felt the power and passion is lacking.

bodiesinflight57
July 15th 2010


870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I realized while watching them live last night how much I actually agree with the major sentiment of this review.

Some of their old songs are good but the majority were just really average. Whereas these new songs see them really step up a couple of gears.

kevin234
June 17th 2011


238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

circa and thrice were the reason i listen to the music i do today. this album is fantastic. got it on vinyl



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