Circa Survive are making some of the best music of their career
From the very beginning, Circa Survive were in a lane of their own. With members who had already done time in Saosin, Taken, and This Day Forward, they were immediately embraced by the post-hardcore/emo world, and Anthony Green's hooky melodies made them easy to like, but almost nobody in that scene was combining post-hardcore with the kinds of progressive and psychedelic rock influences that Circa Survive brought to classics like 2005's Juturna and 2007's On Letting Go. And in a sea of similar-sounding singers, nobody's voice sounded like Anthony Green's. After a short-lived stint on a major label (for 2010's Blue Sky Noise) coincided with declining mainstream interest in post-hardcore and emo, Circa could've thrown in the towel like many of their peers did, but they powered through the 2010s with a series of rock-solid albums that stayed true to the band's roots and only strengthened their already-diehard fanbase.
As good as Circa Survive's 2010s run was, the music they've been making in the 2020s is some of their best yet. It's unlike anything they've ever done before, but still sounds distinctly like Circa Survive. It feels as fresh in 2022 as Juturna did in 2005, and even saying the band sound reinvigorated would be an understatement. "I don't know if even back in the day I had the capacity to feel as excited as I do now," Anthony told us in a recent interview. The band's new sound began on last year's A Dream About Love EP, one of the best punk (umbrella term) EPs of 2021, and it continues on their new EP A Dream About Death, out today (2/4) on Rise Records. For a band whose classic sound was often defined by interlocking lead guitars, it's both unexpected and thrilling to hear them writing songs where guitars take a backseat or sometimes aren't even used at all. A Dream About Death is fueled by a collage of buzzing synths, glitchy beats, lush pianos, and all kinds of electronic manipulation, and as ever, Anthony Green's unmistakable voice leads the way. You'd never call these songs "post-hardcore" or "emo" or even "rock"; it's more like a swirling concoction of art pop, psychedelia, and a hint of industrial that shares more DNA with Kid A or Bjork or the new Low album than with anybody who played Warped Tour in the mid 2000s. And it feels like an entirely natural progression for Circa Survive.
It's exciting to hear a veteran band undergoing such a drastic evolution over 15 years into their career, but it's even more exciting how well these songs stand on their own, regardless of any context. You don't have to be a longtime fan or know anything about the band's history to get into these EPs; these songs feel as fresh in 2022 as just about anything coming out of the indie world lately. Often, they feel even fresher. In an age where so much of the indie zeitgeist is intentionally retro, the Dream EPs sound entirely futuristic. These EPs don't sound like Juturna and On Letting Go, but they do the same thing Circa Survive was doing in the 2000s; they're accessible enough to exist within the world of current popular music, but they occupy a lane of their own. The world is still playing catchup to the path Circa Survive forged on Juturna, and Circa themselves aren't waiting around for anyone to get there. They're onto new frontiers.
In less positive news, Circa Survive officially cancelled their Blue Sky Noise tour with Tigers Jaw and Soul Glo: