Kurt Vile & the Violators
Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 5/12
Written by: TL on 14/10/2012 12:50:57
Here's a sentence I never thought I'd see myself write: The new Circa Survive is not very good. It's sort of blunt to start a review like that, I know, but considering how excellent each of the band's three previous albums have been and considering the long time man crush I've had on singer Anthony Green, I just have to hands down admit that I'm shocked to have listened to the band's fourth album "Violent Waves" about a dozen times and yet I still feel forced to conclude that; it just is not getting anywhere near as good as their previous material. After a stint with big label Atlantic Records in which the band probably drew the longer straw, utilising the label's support to create the brilliant "Blue Sky Noise" both the band and the label felt like they were not a match made in heaven, and since then Circa Survive have been going at it alone, writing, producing, recording and releasing "Violent Waves" on their own, and with all the fearfulness of offering a complaint to someone I worship I feel I must suggest that maybe somewhere along the way, a little help could have been needed?
To be fair, whatever the elusive problem is on "Violent Waves", it is unlikely to be found in the departments of recording and production, because Circa Survive sound about as crisp as ever in channeling their eerie, spacy modern prog, still coming of highly similar to contemporaries like The Mars Volta and Flood Of Red. My feeling is that where something is missing is rather in the compositions, because the songs and their parts just flat out blend together too much on here. There are flashes of the band's potential in refrains in "Sharp Practice" and "Brother Song", but at large even guest appearances from Geoff Rickley and Rachel Minton (from Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer) in "The Lottery" and "Suitcase" respectively, never really strike the sparks we're used to from Circa. It's like the band's trademark dazzling guitar leads and urgent vocal melodies have all been sacrificed for a much mellower mood on here, and to my ears the result is something all-together less memorable.
Of course Circa Survive are still Circa Survive, so it's not like they'd make a record that does not sound rather good and highly unique, and it's not like listening to them is not still a relatively intriguing experience in sonic exploration. Lesser bands can still only dream to write and record music like theirs. It's just that when they've operated on such a high level for such a long time, it just feels terribly weird to put on a new album by these guys and not be awestruck momentarily. Of course it might just be me, because from what I've been seeing, Circa have still been garnering rave reviews from various corners of the internets, but for all my trying I must report that I'm just not feeling it. Here's to hoping that it's just a matter of them settling in and learning to maximise their potential as a DIY band, so that by their next album discussions like this will be redundant again.
Download: Brother Song, Sharp Practice
For The Fans Of: The Mars Volta, Tides Of Man, Flood Of Red
Release Date 28.08.2012