Review: Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise

Artist: Circa Survive
Album: Blue Sky Noise
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Atlantic Records

You know you’ve made it if you have the ability to disappear for over two years from anything, but recording and still have people chomping at the bit for more. Case in point, Circa Survive, who, following the support for their brilliant 2007 release On Letting Go, began working on what would become their third release and first album on a major label. Finally out this week, the twelve track Blue Sky Noise is sure to not only place the band in a new position career wise and open then up to a world of opportunity, but also please and challenge longtime fans.

If there’s two things Circa have always made abundantly clear on their albums its that they do as they please and are not afraid to take a risk. From the cold feel of Juturna to the bright sounds of On Letting Go, few bands have been able to navigate the expanse of their sound the way of Circa Survive. On Blue Sky Noise the band continues to evolve and engulf areas of music into their sound, this time seeming to focus on traditional rock. Yes, much like the lead single [and still entertaining two months after release] “Get Out,” much of this record finds the band keeping their signature experimental sound first and foremost, but with radio ready elements present that some longtime fans may struggle to accept, but that ultimately proves beneficial for the overall record.

As “Strange Terrain,” the album opener begins to roll in, you know something electric is in the air. Anthony Green, frontman of the group, comes in at about 40 seconds with a melody that instantly engrains itself into your subconcious while the guitar riff bops along with pop sensibility throughout the lyrical escapades. A similar formula can be found on the aforementioned “Get Out,” but with even stronger results. However, as good as these tracks are, nothing can prepare you for the wintry sensation that is “Glass Arrows.” Bringing guitars with hypnotic delay effects joined with a powerful, driving hook, this is one track you’ll have on repeat for quite awhile.

As you finally settle into the record, “I Felt Free” boasts top 40 ready vocals and a piano melody few can deny before “Imaginary Fiend” comes crashing in with Nick Beard’s near violently nasty bass chuggingly breaking the shimmering pop sensibility of Colin Frangicetto and Brendon Ekstrom’s guitar work before Green enters and completes the indie package. This more signature experimental sound comes back again with the niche meets mainstream fusion of “Fever Dreams.” Starting with quick, clean acoustics and a belting Green, this track has a lot of build with no payoff. Luckily, the ballad “Spirit of the Stairwell” is waiting on the other side to calm us with slide guitar and harmonized “oohs.” If ever a Circa Survive sounded like the soundtrack to a dream, this is it.

Closing out the record, “The Longest Mile” offers a more signature Circa Sound before “Compendium” enters to create a brand new sonic swell of post rock goodness before beautiful transitioning into the closing “Dyed in the Wool.” On “Wool,” Green leaves listeners with discussion of hopelessness and ruined romance through lines like, “And nothing’s going to change that hopeless feeling I get when you say you’ll understand and I know you can’t” while the rest of band blurs the lines between indie, experimental, and traditional rock and roll with roaring success. This track not only encapsulates what I would say is the feel of the record, but pushes the evolution the band goes through on the previous eleven tracks even further and leaves no one doubting the talent of each and every member of Circa Survive.

Blue Sky Noise is a wonderland rock sensibilities hidden amongst a forrest of indie and experimental ideals that seemed fueled from self deprivation, growing up, heartache, loss, isolation, and the search for greater meaning. Where their previous efforts set new standards in the emo/Warped Tour scene, the backing of a major label could just push Blue Sky Noise enough into the spotlight to set standards for modern rock as whole. There is a balance to be found between your vision for your music and marketability that Circa Survive have mastered it with this release.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

Latest posts by James Shotwell (see all)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.