Circle Takes The Square
As the Roots Undo


2.0
poor

Review

by ben rosenblumpkin USER (1 Reviews)
December 15th, 2010 | 87 replies | 5,004 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Innovation is not in and of itself a virtue.

17 of 21 thought this review was well written

Innovation is not in and of itself a virtue. Too much weight, it would therefore seem, is often placed on a band’s pursuit of new directions within a well-established genre, on their so-called ‘originality’. For this all so commonly amounts to nothing more than nouveau pour le nouveau, a blind fumbling about in desperate search of novelty. The results hardly ever live up to the hype that usually surrounds a release that promises to ‘revolutionise’ or ‘radically redefine’ a genre, and the thoughtless enthusiasm that’s typically showered on such shallow displays of experimentation makes it all the more insufferable.

Such is the case with Circle Takes the Square’s As the Roots Undo. The album’s shortcomings are indeed characteristic of most similarly failed attempts at innovation: it is rife with haphazard juxtapositions and awkward, ill-conceived transitions. This fact does little to help with a band that is already lacking in talent and ability; they would have done better to stick to more tried and true paths, on territories that had already been exhaustively explored within the screamo genre. Of course, despite all this, the record was met with the kind of rave critical reviews and hysterical fanfare that predictably follows from a public that is eager to applaud any glib gesture at ‘originality’.

The opposite (over)reaction to As the Roots Undo that has surfaced recently – the wave of hyperbolic, emotional negativity that has risen in response to the album’s longstanding popularity – is certainly no better, however. There is no need to get worked up over this album at all, on either side. One should be able to approach it with a clear and open mind and from there proceed to coldly, dispassionately explain why exactly it fails so spectacularly. Only by adhering to this strict clinical sobriety can one achieve the detachment required to properly dissect As the Roots Undo, itself such a pathetically maudlin piece.

Circle Takes the Square borrows generously from the genres of screamo and post-rock. In so doing, they’re drawing on two musical styles that fall decidedly outside of the mainstream, each of which tends to attract diehards and aficionados. These are two genres, moreover, that have produced some really solid releases considered on their own. Unfortunately, As the Roots Undo struggles frantically to combine elements of both but accomplishes neither. Melodic segments feel hopelessly out of place, swiftly cut short by yet another swath of cacophonous chaos.

The only time that Circle Takes the Square lets an extended ambient section develop – in the intro to ‘Non-objective Portrait of Karma’ – it’s disappointing. You know where it’s going from the start. As soon as the whispers join the clean guitar arpeggio there’s no doubt that it’s heading into still one more apoplectic, all-over-the-place screamo spiel. The predominantly screamo songs, for their part, don’t fare any better. Just when Circle Takes the Square have finally got a good rhythm going, everything cuts out and it’s stripped down to some weak, schmaltzy drivel. And you just know that this is soon to be accompanied by some overdramatic whining or supposedly anthemic sing-along refrain by Drew Spezialle, the band’s lead singer and songwriter. All of the shifts seem sudden and forced, as the band vainly tries to fit in another ‘unexpected’ section to remind the listener that they’re defying expectations.

But it’s an effective gambit, one has to admit. God knows enough people have uncritically gushed over As the Roots Undo’s ‘groundbreaking’, ‘unprecedented’ synthesis of screamo and post-rock. It all has an air of cheap emotion hanging over it – the ridiculous lyrics, the chick singer, the soooo artistic (though actually amateurish) cover art. More than anything, though, it's the contrived push for originality at any cost, without any substantial payoff. And it’s not hard to see through it, if you pay enough attention.


user ratings (1844)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
GodspeedEmperor
December 15th 2010



115 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This review had been approved before months ago, don't know where it went though. I don't mean to revive the drama and controversy around this album but it's the only review I've written

wyankeif1337
December 15th 2010



6739 Comments


it's a good review, bro.
i still haven't heard this

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
December 15th 2010



7970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You put forth a good argument, even though I obviously disagree with you

Kris.
December 15th 2010



12148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

because this really needs another review

WoodLawn
December 15th 2010



134 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haters gonna hate.

Still pretty much the best screamo album ever.

PinkBlackberry
December 15th 2010



2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review, yet highly unnecessary.

why not put your great writing skills into a different Album, with less reviews, and less drama circulating around it?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 15th 2010



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

why not put your great writing skills into a different Album, with less reviews, and less drama circulating around it?


Not a bad idea, you should go review Brand New's The Devil and God...

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

PinkBlackberry
December 15th 2010



2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ Truly your best bet.

DiceMan
December 15th 2010



7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hate it when people windmill in mosh pits.

Gyromania
December 15th 2010



15198 Comments


I know that 'revolutionize' and 'revolutionise' are both acceptable, but I will never understand why people choose the latter, it just looks retarded, and pronunciation suggests the former be a lot more accurate. At any rate, I enjoyed reading your review, but your concluding paragraph was a little retarded.

It all has an air of cheap emotion hanging over it – the ridiculous lyrics, the chick singer, the soooo artistic (though actually amateurish) cover art.

Seriously, just... why? Also, I don't understand how people can deny the emotional impact this album has.

Bitchfork
December 15th 2010



7584 Comments


because it doesn't have any until the last three tracks. it comes across as a poor example of polystylysm and shit lyrics with even worse songwriting that bores me to tears.

Gyromania
December 15th 2010



15198 Comments


I can understand people not liking this, but I have to laugh at the thought of it being boring. I'm still not entirely sure why people are choosing to focus so much on the lyrics they so clearly can't make out without a wikilyrics page up.

Bitchfork
December 15th 2010



7584 Comments


actually the lyrics are pretty decipherable in comparison to many other screamo acts out there so that argument makes no sense to me, but worse yet is that you're saying that lyrics here aren't important when they're trying to pull off this big philosophical conquest but just perpetuating the ideals of Milton as a fifteen year old English Honors student would who "tried really, really hard."

And it's boring beause there aren't really any hooks to latch onto/pushes towards the cliff but never gets to the edge

Gyromania
December 15th 2010



15198 Comments


Sorry, almost forgot that you're a philosophy major. This album progresses at a rapid pace, there's a lot to 'latch' onto, and if the entirety of 'Kill The Switch' doesn't push you to the edge then you must be listening to some REALLY epic music that I'm missing.

SeaAnemone
December 15th 2010



19721 Comments


idk I find it really dynamic and captivating, just saying. but b4k and I have been through this a few times, I get where he's coming from, generally.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

Bitchfork
December 15th 2010



7584 Comments


"Sorry, almost forgot that you're a philosophy major. This album progresses at a rapid pace, there's a lot to 'latch' onto, and if the entirety of 'Kill The Switch' doesn't push you to the edge then you must be listening to some REALLY epic music that I'm missing."

I like Kill the Switch but it would be so much better if that whole little "a welcome comatose, this night we journey though the dark" part was omitted and the whole noisy ending was merged somehow with the last refrain in a way that didn't kill the momentum of the song. And if that noisy part was stretched out for like 30 secs longer it'd be a 4.5 straight up. But that doesn't account for the other 30 + minutes of music on this album.

Gyromania
December 15th 2010



15198 Comments


@Gyromania; Either that or people just have a different opinions.

I'm fine when people have diverging opinions, I just don't understand how the central focus for their disliking of this tends to be the lyrics. Also, fair enough Austin.

WoodLawn
December 15th 2010



134 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I always thought the fact that the hooks weren't immediately apparent was part of the charm. Now that I know the album like the back of my hand I find pretty much the whole damned thing to be a hook.

Bitchfork
December 15th 2010



7584 Comments


"I always thought the fact that the hooks weren't immediately apparent was part of the charm. Now that I know the album like the back of my hand I find pretty much the whole damned thing to be a hook.
"
I love how everyone says that this is a grower when for me this was a 3.5 for like the first 5 listens and it got progressively shittier.

WoodLawn
December 15th 2010



134 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album's a grower, not a show-er.

@Gyromania:
It's because this is emo, so you HAVE to complain about the lyrics.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy