Review Summary: These guys aren’t going to stay small for long.
The first thing I thought after listening to Circus Circus’ debut album Brooklyn Nightlife was: "These guys aren’t going to stay small for long."
It’s like somebody combined the sassy frenetics of the Blood Brothers and Hot Cross, added the make-you-want-to-play-an-air-instrument-in-public dynamics of the Fall of Troy, then mixed a few of Keith Buckley’s (Every Time I Die) caterwauls with the shrieks of George Pettit (Alexisonfire). The result: a concentrated dose of face-melting, eyeball-gouging, (insert metal/hardcore violent-image buzz word) hardcore (if you can even label it that), that will undoubtedly answer the question: “Why the hell did they name themselves Circus Circus"”
From the get-go, Circus Circus grabs you by the jugular and maintains its chokehold throughout the course of the half-hour ride. “First We Feast, Then We Felony,” jump starts the album with a thirty second chaotically high-pitched, dual-guitar onslaught (a feature that helps tremendously in creating the band’s chaotic sound throughout the album) and fast-paced percussion, only to segue into an Every Time I Die-esque gritty mini-breakdown, replete with screeching, dissonant chaos chords and raspy wails via vocalist Mike Williams. Within the next two minutes, the band jumps back and forth between a more streamlined, cleaner sound and unbridled pandemonium.
The best part about the album is the element of surprise and spontaneity that it contains, both within the songs themselves and in the transitioning from one track to the next. Spastic opener “First We Feast, Then We Felony,” somehow manages to fade into the crunching, more deliberate “Amputee Ball.” The tense augury of “Eden In Sweden” unfolds into the face-mauling blasts of “Get Your Dog Out of My Salmon Bushes.” Additionally, the instrumentation is top-level; even though the guitars are the most initially noticeable, repeated listens uncover fantastic drumming and a firm bass backbone, and it is only then that listeners experience a full appreciation of the high-quality musicianship on this album.
As a result of the bands seemingly effortless ability to surprise, the album has a feeling of variety and freshness. Tracks like “Telepathic Chat” and “India” showcase a slowed (although still intense), more melodic side of the band, while others like “Jehovah’s Fitness” and “Eden In Sweden” highlight an up-tempo, dancey (albeit in an "I’m-on-acid" kind of way) side of the band. Also, as aforementioned, “Get Your Dog Out of My Salmon Bushes,” churns unrelentingly, closing off the album as the heaviest track.
If you can listen to this entire exercise in ballistics without feeling compelled to jump around, then the only thing I can recommend is psychiatric help (or a break from the Valium). In a year of exceedingly over-hyped crap, Brooklyn Nightlife deserves every piece of praise it receives, and provides a nice reminder that there are still bands out there that can create unique music and kick ass doing it.