Album Review: Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise

Blue Sky Noise, Circa Survive‘s third full-length effort, is an apathetic and prolonged affair that seems to beg for a complete overhaul of mind, body, and soul. After about six years, three major releases, and a jump from an independent record label to Atlantic Records, there is no justification for making essentially the same album repeatedly, so I’m sure fans are starting to feel a bit cheated.

Frontman Anthony Green is a very creative individual. Green’s old band Saosin had its moments, and his other inactive band, The Sound of Animals Fighting, was just downright impressive, so it’s a wonder that such mediocrity emanates from his latest “experimental” (take experimental lightly) rock supergroup, Circa Survive. Even bringing in skilled producer David Bottril (of Tool and King Crimson fame) couldn’t help the monotony of it all.

This new album is nearly synonymous with the Lost Woods level in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; I’m sure you all remember. As Link stumbled into the woods, players would have to follow the music to discover the correct path through the forest. If a wrong tunnel was chosen, you would end up back at the start of the frustrating maze. What creates the repetitious forest, musically, are the constant, reverberating guitar parts. Too many finger pickings and echo-induced tones muddy up and do away with the opportunity to produce any kind of auditory evolution.

Now, the tricks of the forest (luring into wrong tunnels) come from interesting instrumental sections within some of the songs on Blue Sky Noise; take “Through the Desert Alone”, for example. The song opens up with a heavily distorted bass line that makes expectations for something new skyrocket; hearts start to race and players feel as if they finally made it to the end of the forest when, upon arrival, they realize they’re right back at the beginning. When the song finally kicks in, the drone-esque bass disappears and what remains is exactly the thing Circa Survive started with: dreamlike guitar atmospheres and whiney vocals from Green.

This overproduced album didn’t need a new producer or record label; it needed new ideas, new inspiration. Growth isn’t anywhere to be found within the Circa Survive universe, which is sad because the band had a lot of potential in the beginning of its career. What’s needed is a complete revamp of musicianship: new guitar tones, new drum beats, and more experimentation from Green and his voice. I’m sure if they discovered the actual “experimentation” that so many people use to describe their music, a major reworking of Circa’s themes could be achieved. Who knows, maybe they just need to start smoking pot, or if they already do, smoke more of it… Until then, or until change is actually found, this band is going to continue to fall deeper and deeper into the darkest recesses of recycled rock music.


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