May 29, 2007 - Equal Vision
Anthony Green is a really lucky guy. Not to discount his own incredible vocal abilities, but name another lead singer who has been surrounded by three different groups of insanely talented musicians and released groundbreaking music with each in just four years. From Saosin to the Sound Of Animals Fighting to Circa Survive, Green has represented progression in music, no matter what genre the band are placed in. Which is why it’s kind of offsetting that On Letting Go, Circa’s hotly anticipated sophomore album, sounds a bit too comfortable for Green & Co.
That’s not to say the record is bad—in fact, it is without a doubt the best record any of Circa Survive’s members have been a part of. The curiosity comes again choosing producer Brian McTernan, who was responsible for the band’s 2005 debut, Juturna. Though McTernan consistently produces career-defining albums (see Moneen’s The Red Tree and Cave In’s Jupiter), you could easily put the two Circa albums on shuffle and not notice the difference from a production standpoint.
Of course, if something ain’t broke, you don’t have to fix it, but knowing how creative Circa are musically, it would have been nice to see what On Letting Go could have sounded like in another producer’s hands (look at how Thursday reinvented themselves with Dave Fridmann). But as it stands, On Letting Go is a wonderful sophomore effort; a logical extension of a band who’ve toured nonstop for the past two years, getting to know themselves and each other in the process. Colin Frangicetto’s guitar leads are downright haunting in “Carry Us Away,” and his past in This Day Forward truly shines in the heavy-hitting chorus of “Living Together.” But the true centerpiece of the disc is “The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is In The Dose,” a flawless song with each member falling deftly into place behind Green’s soaring vocals, culminating with the chilling question, “Did you ever wish you were somebody else?”
“Semi Constructive Criticism” and “In The Morning And Amazing...”-both of which were road-tested last month on the AP Tour-as well as “The Greatest Lie” showcase the band’s strengths (flying guitars, tricky drumming, otherworldly vocals, esoteric lyrics). The band lose a little ground on “Mandala” and “Kicking Your Crosses Down,” tracks where they tiptoe into new styles and rhythms but lack the confidence displayed on the other new material-Green’s strange “Let the people be free” refrain on “Mandala” and the flamenco choruses on “Kicking Your Crosses Down” simply do not work.
But it’s easy to overlook the small imperfections, as they serve to enhance the overall attractiveness of the subject. And the payoff comes in places like the title track, with the intense “If blood is thicker than water then you’ll drown quicker than we intended” chant. You don’t know who Green’s talking about, but you’re just happy he’s sharing—and hoping it’s not directed toward you.
Engine Down’s Demure
This Day Forward’s In Response