Album Review: Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There

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Circa Waves are an indie rock band formed in Liverpool in 2013 by lead singer Kieran Shudall, with guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke and drummer Colin Jones completing the group. Having been previously compared to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, Circa Waves rose to fame with their debut album Young Chasers in 2015, with bangers aplenty such as “Get Away”and “Stuck In My Teeth”, not to mention “T-Shirt Weather”, which can usually be heard blaring out of speakers across the country when the temperature exceeds 12 degrees.

If you’ve already heard of Circa Waves then I’m sure you won’t need any convincing to listen to the album. If you haven’t had this pleasure, and you’re an indie-loving gig goer then you’re in for a treat. If you discount the first disappointing 20 seconds that are the title track – leaving you feeling cheated out of an extra song – the record opens in true Circa Waves fashion with “Sorry I’m Yours”, an amalgamation of the styles of both their previous albums.  

Despite some harsh reviews from the likes of NME, claiming “Passport” would not seem out of place on The Greatest Showman soundtrack, giving them a 2 out of 5 stars rating, this official top 10 album boasts some real gems. Circa Waves may receive some backlash for moving away from their roots and adding keys, steering more towards “dreary piano pop” (as NME puts it), but Kieran’s distinctive vocals keep the album original and sounding like classic Circa Waves, giving rise to the catchy uplifting riff in “Times Won’t Change Me”.

“Passport”, also laced with piano,was easily a favourite the first time round listening to the album, “walking with my head down” strutting along the streets with my headphones in. This feel-good song makes you think you can conquer anything and even get that dissertation written; or end up “going drinking” as the song suggests. Either outcome is a winner.

“The Way We Say Goodbye” is definitely the ballad of the album, with parts echoing Thirty Seconds to Mars’ more recent tracks. Since the album was written whilst the band were touring America, I imagine this song was inspired by long-distance relationships, or possibly the connection Kieran has to his cat (who is a regular feature on his Instagram @franciswaves). I’m sure this relatable song will tug on your heartstrings.

The let-down of the album must be “Me, Myself and Hollywood” with its dreary, repetitive chorus lacking artistry, in a similar way to that of “Be Somebody Good”. Circa Waves have previously proven they can master slower songs with “Love’s Run Out” from Different Creatures (2017),and “Deserve This” from Young Chasers (2015). Nevertheless, it’s clear their strength lies in producing energetic alt-rock songs jam-packed full of melodic guitar and booming bass.

“Motorcade” and “Saviour” end the album with a bang, these heavier, haunting cuts reminiscent of their sophomore record Different Creatures; these are the tracks you look forward to hearing live. Do these have the potential to knock “T-Shirt Weather” from its long-standing top spot? Have a listen and decide.

Photograph by Paul Hudson via Wikimedia and Creative Commons

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