Review Summary: Appendage is a fantastic complement to Blue Sky Noise, and a welcome addition to Circa Survive's already impressive discography.
When Blue Sky Noise
was released in early 2010, Circa Survive proved that they weren’t mere “one-trick ponies,” but rather, a band capable of change and adaptation, which was ultimately the reason for the album’s success. After a series of all too similar releases, including two full fledged albums and one EP, Blue Sky Noise
was a breath of fresh air, featuring bountiful creativity and excellence in songwriting. Needless to say, this new found inspiration carried over into all of Circa Survive’s material, as we see the B-Sides of their junior effort hold the same exuberance and creative energy.
is aptly named, for it doesn’t feature a wealth of brand new material, but rather, tracks left over from the Blue Sky Noise
sessions. It is a compliment to the band’s latest outing, rather than a completely new take on the band‘s established sound. Yet even though the EP offers nothing new in the way of sound, the excellence displayed on their latest album is still prominent, even on these B-sides. Circa Survive just sound tighter
than before, and this concise feeling permeates the EP, making for a much more cohesive listen.
Yet all of this would be for naught, were there not an exceptional band behind the music. The band sounds great as a unit, with the members meshing incredibly well with one another , creating a very smooth sound, which is only bolstered by the pitch perfect production. The guitars have a very light and loopy quality, and the tone is constantly changing, keeping things ever interesting. The bass is audible which is a plus, and the drum work is nothing spectacular, but it is incredibly adequate, fitting very well with everything else that is going on. Yet the main attraction on Appendage
(as well as on every other Circa Survive release) is Anthony Green. While the amount of hyperbolic praise the man receives is most definitely overblown, Green has a very alluring quality in respect to his vocals. He can be whiny, and at times he really strains far too much, but as a whole the emotion and exuberance in his voice is palpable, allowing for his imperfections to take a back-seat to the pure unbridled passion within each line he sings. It’s safe to say that Green really adds a lot to the EP, as many of the songs work because the feeling in his voice really allow the songs to reach a certain excellence.
And the songs are indeed excellent, as Appendage
does not feature a single terrible track. There are five selections, making for a fairly meaty EP. And while each track is great in its own right, these are in fact B-Sides, and it regretfully shows. I personally wouldn’t trade a single track off of Blue Sky Noise
for anything on Appendage
. It isn’t because any of the tracks are expressly bad
, but nothing here is of the same caliber as the songs on the last album. None of the tracks would have aided the quality or flow of the album, which only makes it more obvious that these are mere “leftovers.”
However, this doesn’t take much away from the overall experience, as Appendage
features five great songs. The opening track, “Sleep Underground” is a peculiar track in that it doesn’t sound like anything the band has done before. It is incredibly slow, and boasts an organ-like tune in the back. Green is literally the only prominent performer, as the repetitious melody is relatively inaudible, allowing for the mournful and languid vocals to enter into the foreground. It’s actually quite beautiful, and the sparse moments of discordant key changes make for a wholly interesting listen. The next track is actually a highlight of the EP, and could probably hold its own as a standalone single. The pace and tone are slightly reminiscent of “Strange Terrain” from Blue Sky Noise
, which was arguably one of the album’s strongest tracks. “Everyway” is another fine track, but in all actuality it is nothing special. It’s a fairly standard song, and features a great chorus, but in the end there just isn’t anything particularly arresting about it. At over five minutes in length, “Backmask” is the EP’s longest song, and most interesting as well. It’s quite percussive, and it as a lot of variety contained within, making for a much more intriguing experience. “Lazarus,” the final song, is in the same vein as the previous track. While it differs in overall sound, the song has a wealth of instrumental and vocal variety, allowing the EP to end on a very high note.
When all is said and done, Appendage
is simply a collection of B-Sides. However, the EP is a fantastic little addition to the Circa Survive résumé, and the extra thought that went into releasing it will be greatly appreciated by hardened fans. Sure it misses the mark set earlier this year by Blue Sky Noise
, but who cares? Despite its faults, Appendage
will be an incredibly enjoyable piece of music for Circa Survive devotees and newcomers alike.