Circa Survive
A Dream About Love


4.5
superb

Review

by Sowing STAFF
October 23rd, 2021 | 188 replies


Release Date: 10/22/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Circa Survive, still at the top of their collective game

Few bands have been able to rival Circa Survive's longevity, creativity, or consistency. The way this group has been able to retain its not-of-this-world luster – from Juturna's emotional indie roots all the way through The Amulet's swirling, blizzardous alt-rock, they've continually found ways to to vary their craft. Their distinctive yet wide-ranging discography is as rare as it is enviable, with each record serving as an essential sojourn within Circa Survive's broader and seemingly infinite odyssey.

For as much as Circa Survive feels like a permanent fixture – forever etched into the annals of post-hardcore – A Dream About Love is by contrast an observation of the ephemeral. It's a theme made all the more appropriate by the twenty-nine minute EP's own brevity, cohesively functioning like a ghostly standerby of events that will come to pass: life, love, and even empires. On the sinister opener 'Imposter Syndrome', Anthony Green broodingly warns "America is burning from the inside out / I don't think we're meant to be free" amid muted, aqueous electronic backbeats that nearly, maybe even vaguely, call back to 'In The Air Tonight' only instead of a thunderous drum fill we get Green's raspily screamed "I was searching for a painless way to die" as electric guitars ramp up and collide with cascading layers of backing vocals until the entire thing exhausts itself and implodes in a cloud of dust. The song's structure and abrupt cliff fall of a conclusion symbolizes (perhaps inadvertently) the collapsing society which Green is lamenting, thus adding yet another dimension to the song's emotional and metaphorical potency. It's a brilliant start to the EP that is recognizably Circa Survive, only with more of an expansive, ravine-like atmosphere which seems open and liberated in the wake of The Amulet's dense, foggy winter.

Similarly, much of A Dream About Love feels like it is spent freeing itself from a dream-like mist; almost a struggle for lucidity, or understanding. The melodies are differentiable but also dissonant, the guitars are oft-awashed in a haze of disorienting feedback, and most of the tracks either enter or depart the scene to a series of very sharply defined instrumental notes, thus creating the contrast between concrete and mystical. The result is a satisfyingly unified air, one which perhaps Circa Survive fans have already come to expect. It's evident from the word go and continues through 'Drift''s born-of-fire riffs and twinkling-star pianos, 'Our Last Shot''s thunderous drumming and eerie sound effects, 'Even Better''s melodious gravitational pull, 'Gone For Good''s keyboard-laden somberness, and 'Sleep Well''s synth-wrapped stuttering percussion. It's a thrilling weave in and out of consciousness, working brilliantly and as-designed. Throughout the entire thing, vocalist Anthony Green also performs up to expectations – his shrill wails providing a chilling backbone to the band's hazy and simultaneously lush concoctions. By the end, A Dream About Love ends up representing the band's resume-to-date quite well while still offering something different; a perfect example of how to balance experimentation with familiarity and structure.

If Circa Survive's discography is a pond, then each new release is like a stone that sends ripples through its surface to ensure that their craft never stagnates. A Dream About Love is aesthetically dreamier and also a bit cleaner sounding than most of the band's preceding works, but it's a welcome stroke of accessibility that doesn't forsake the Circa Survive name. This is likely the best EP that this band has released, and it also goes toe-to-toe with any of their full-lengths – save for perhaps 2010's Blue Sky Noise, which arguably remains their career high water mark. By default that makes A Dream About Love essential listening for any fan of this band – and if you're not yet a believer, then this little gem ought to do the trick.



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user ratings (125)
3.7
great
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m/ Ian m/ (4.5)
Come full circle and thrive...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Storm In A Teacup
October 23rd 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice!

treos777
October 23rd 2021


510 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This ep feels like skeletons for finished songs to me mostly due to the electronic drums throughout... Like good unfinished songs but yeah. Going to have give this a few more listens to see where it sits for me. Nice review!!

po0ty
October 23rd 2021


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I'm really having trouble getting over the production style of this. It neuters a lot of what I loved about Circa in favor of twinkly electronics and static drum beats. The guitars also feel in the cut the whole time which is a shame since they're usually an element of theirs I like most.



I think I would rate this higher if it were an Anthony Green solo record which is what this sounds like to me. But as a Circa release its disappointing.

Gyromania
October 23rd 2021


33254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I'm having a hard time getting into this

Odal
October 24th 2021


652 Comments


Pleasantly surprised by this. I think it's a nice stopgap between Amulet and whatever comes next, while also being a surprisingly fully-formed beast in its own right. I think it's a clear stepdown from their actual LP's, but that doesn't mean it's bad by any stretch. It's cool to hear them approach this with a different production style than usual.

Sowing
Moderator
October 24th 2021


39686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I enjoyed the departure in sound also. I don't think it sounds undercooked or anything, just a bit cleaner and more accessible. I wouldn't want them to pursue this sound forever, but as a one-off EP it's pretty brilliant. Plus, for as much as we're talking about how clean it is, it's still fairly dissonant/shrill/experimental when it wants to be.

Digging: Converge - Bloodmoon: I

Storm In A Teacup
October 24th 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The next step is this as an LP.

Sowing
Moderator
October 24th 2021


39686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd enjoy that honestly, but I'm not sure how likely that is. If that was their game plan then I feel like they would have just tacked a few more songs onto this and called it a day, unless they were feeling things out to see how this gets received first or something.

Winsomniac
October 24th 2021


8798 Comments


Hot take: I don't like the drum production on this release. It sounds unorganic and I cannot get over it.

Mongi123
October 24th 2021


21189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man, this is making me wanna plow through their discography again (:

treos777
October 24th 2021


510 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"The next step is this as an LP."



In a recent interview they seemed pretty into the idea of just releasing EPs more often forgoing LPs.

Storm In A Teacup
October 24th 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fine with me, they have made two of the top 30 eps of all time so they could really add to their legacy by doing that

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2021


45892 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I truly cannot comprehend people taking issue with the drum production here. these are some of the best recorded drums I've heard lmao. shit sounds p r i s t i n e

Storm In A Teacup
October 24th 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah

GreyShadow
October 24th 2021


5438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i'm also in the pristine vote

Storm In A Teacup
October 24th 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

m/ m/

Gyromania
October 24th 2021


33254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Idk man, this is just kind of uneventful overall. I gotta hear it again but it seemed slow and dull my first play. Gone for good was the only thing that stood out to me

LightChaotic
October 24th 2021


314 Comments


This EP is a real grower. Usually, that means it takes time to fully appreciate the songs. But in this case, I already fully appreciated them and they just keep getting better and better.

treos777
October 24th 2021


510 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah i listened to this again and... nothing... but i haven't been hype about circa since BSN so i'm willing to admit it's a me problem lol

Storm In A Teacup
October 24th 2021


36574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

heack yeah light chaotic. listening again as well and love !



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