Circa Survive Re-establish Their Sound
The definition of “emo” is very broad these days. The textbook definition reads that emo is “a style of rock music resembling punk, but having more complex arrangements and lyrics that deal with more emotional subjects.” Ask an old-school emo fan today, they would tell you that emo is a more complex punk. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Rites of Spring used complex arrangements of punk sounds to write angsty, almost depressing lyrics that resonated with many, as their style of emo still has a strong underground following today. If you were to ask a mid-2000s emo fan, they would tell you about the groups like My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco, who used pop-punk style vocals with post-hardcore style instrumentals to write emotional yet glam style songs.
If you were to take these two fans and recommend them a band that covers all sides of their emo, Circa Survive is not a bad place to start. With former members of Saosin, This Day Forward and Taken, Circa Survive have made a name for their own band, respectively, having been a staple of emo since 2004.
Their newest album, The Amulet, reaches the band’s strengths in a successful manner. From the start, the track “Lustration” emphasizes how impressive the voice of Anthony Green is. It has all of the glam of early 2000s emo with the incredible catchiness that follows his diction of words, reminiscent of Andrew McMahon.
“At Night It Gets Worse” takes somber guitar chords and makes a track that extends for six minutes. Although the most lengthy track on the record, it produces a song that takes the listener on a journey. In the middle of the track, there are guitar pieces that sound almost like The Edge from U2. It makes this post-hardcore style song a lot more arena-esque. The lyrics are very haunting with shades of sexual references, yet themes of death.
“Stay” takes the emo to the midwest, with a twinkly math rock style guitar riff that opens the track, reminiscent of Tiny Moving Parts. This track is short, sweet, to the point and a nice change of pace for the album that has been slow moving thus far.
Although Circa Survive has shades of success with this album, a lot of the songs begin to blend together as the listener continues. Tracks feel very similar and it’s hard to differentiate what makes this album that special, specifically during the run of songs from “Never Tell A Soul” to “Tunnel Vision.” For fans of Circa Survive, this album will produce tracks they will most likely enjoy, but because of how much the songs are alike at times it is hard to give The Amulet its own unique identity to grow and gain new fans. Circa Survive has potential to grow into a more dreamy mature sound, shades of this are shown in The Amulet, but the band focuses mostly on their pre-established sound without trying to expand their boundaries.