Circa Survive - On Letting Go
Sophomore attempts are a bitch, for lack of a better term. Bands face one of two daunting tasks: either to recreate or rework an image and sound made by your poor first release or they have to basically outdo themselves because of an outstanding debut album. Of course, there are other tasks not nearly as daunting, such as just continuing on the beaten trail. Bands like the Matches had to drastically improve things while bands like Bloc Party and the Arcade Fire had to prove that they weren't out of steam with just one album under their sleeves.
So describes the situation that Circa Survive was in. Juturna was a mixture of winding guitars, powerful vocals, and impressive drumlines. With On Letting Go, they'd have to outdo themselves by beating the exceptionally high standard set by Juturna, which can be considered weak in the lryics department. Unlike Juturna, On Letting Go is everywhere but overall an improvement. There are definitely the ups ("Living Together," "Kicking Your Crosses Down," and "Travel Hymn") and the downs ("Mandala" and "On Letting Go"). Don't fault the songs listed as 'the downs,' because they still are decent tracks--they just don't reach the higher level of the rest of the album--lyrically.
The album is littered with the power tracks and the stand out tracks. These tracks are the songs that have stepped up a few stairs and moved beyond the Circa Surive norm and done slightly more than just layered guitars and the siren-like delivery ("Kicking Your Crosses Down," "Travel Hymn," and "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose"). On the other hand, there are those tracks that stick with the norm, even if slightly improving it ("Living Together" and "Close Your Eyes to See"). Going through this album, you realize it really lacks any tracks that urge you to skip them, everything is different and everything earns a listen.
I'd like to focus this next paragraph on the fact that Circa Survive has provided us with a sucker punch--a real shocker. "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose," the first single of the album, is probably the best choice for a single--if not the best song on the album. It's probably the poppiest track on the album--extremely catchy and radio friendly. Also, it features some of the best lyrics on the album and it simply is musically amazing, with a spectacular drumline and the above-averagely impressive yet characteristic, thickly layered guitars. The fact that this song started off from the live demos I've heard to this really lays testament to the amount of effort Anthony Green & Co. put into this album.
And no album or its review (at least involved anything Circa Survive-related) would be complete without mention of Anthony Green's vocals. Not everyone is going to love Green's voice--it's just not one of those voices. A falsetto less irritating than Craig Owens and more controlled than Claudio Sanchez, his vocals are the Three Bears equivalent of being just right. He doesn't overdo or under perform, he hammers the hell out of the nail and has really gone a long way from Juturna. Just as much can be said as the band, officially a cohesive unit and this time without any distraction on Green's part. The focus and the proof of such focus really is emulated through such a superb album.
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on 2007-07-06 blackxdan Said:
I agree that the tracks on this album has its ups and downs. And like stated above, just because they are listed as downs, that does not make them bad tracks. all the tracks are simply amazing, it's just that some of the tracks like 'On Letting Go' aren't as lyrically or musically impressive as the tracks prior to it. You may be able to call me biased because Circa Survive is one of the bands i currently listen to the most, but there is a reason for that. The music is solid, the guitar parts fit in with the music, and the vocals go together well with everything. 'On Letting Go' was worth waiting for, and I think a lot of people were pleasantly surprised or not surprised at all. You either love or hate circa survive. There really is no in between. If you were to listen to this sophomore release, you may be persuaded to like this band, instead of dislike.
on 2007-06-02 hstisgod Said:
Though I'm growing old of your five star/no star balance of reviews, I still think you're a budding writer, and yes this review is evidence.