Review Summary: It's crystal-clear that Circa Survive are excelling, but cheesiness and tepid tracks are notable hindrances.
Before Blue Sky Noise
would never be a word that one would apply to Circa Survive. Their previous two albums were essentially faux-progressive bombast that ran like indie and played like ambient. Juturna
, the band's debut album, was a rather tedious and pathetic attempt at experimental rock, only toying with the occasional sonic texture or metallic riff. Yet, it was under a dismal shroud of pretense and, let's face it, meandering ideas. This transferred over to Juturna
's successor, thus leading Circa Survive's sophmoric effort a more spacious and inefficient take on Circa Survive's debut. As homogenous and dynamically defunct as Juturna
, On Letting Go
was a record comprised of poor songwriting, underwhelming musicianship, and haphazard genre juxtaposition. This particular album never was quite sure of itself. Rather than powerful, the ideas on this sophomore album were meanderous, and their execution exuded stagnancy. Circa Survive's pretentious and "intricate" style seemed to be the band's trademark, which is why it's so surprising that Circa Survive took the route to simplicity on their third full-length album.
On Blue Sky Noise
Circa Survive's sinuous melodies have been replaced with a refreshingly frank style of pop. Of course Green and company simply couldn't refuse to include traits of electronic, acoustic, and alternative, but they're placed effectively, and Blue Sky Noise
is all the better for it. "Spirit for the Stairwell" is a morose and acoustic take on pop-punk (a successful one at that), but "Strange Terrain" balances a minimal electronic influence with a jaunty pop theme. In the same vein as the opener is its immediate predecessor "Get Out", which is essentially the album's downfall, and the personification of one of its biggest flaws: tawdriness. When Blue Sky Noise
strikes a jovial chord, the result is often a hackneyed and cheap version of pop-punk, as shown on "Imaginary Enemy". Here, Circa Survive go back to their roots, incorporating unfocused verses and lackluster pop choruses. The shameful part is that Circa Surive
show that they tithe heaps of potential, but let it disappate. Fortunately, "Frozen Creek" shows Circa Survive fulfilling their potential. The song, which is a perfect marriage of pathos and pop sensibilities, uses simplicity and Green's improved songwriting as its only crutch. With its aid being one of the most refreshing of Circa Survive's many changes, Circa Survive can
and do succeed (on occasion).
Yes, indeed Circa Survive have
put off their much needed improvements far too long, but Blue Sky Noise
is a documentation of a notable and desired transformation. On "Through The Desert Alone", the change from spacious indie to coherent and somewhat fascinating pop is evident. Climaxes are apposite, and crescendos are effective rather than dull. However, the jocular and tawdry additions of tracks like "Get Out" (easily one of Circa Survive's worst
songs to date) take away from tracks like "Dyed In Wool". Sure it's crystal-clear that Circa Survive are excelling, but cheesiness and tepid tracks are notable hindrances.
"I put it off for so long; I put it off."