Album review: ‘Different Creatures’ by Circa Waves

The English indie-rock band Circa Waves released their second studio album, Different CreaturesFriday. The album includes 11 new songs that highlight the band’s desire to roughen up their image and add more hard-rock elements to their music style.  

Different Creatures showcases a range of edgy guitar riffs and powerful drum fills — unlike their 2015 album Young Chasers, which had more twangy, alternative-style melodies and cheerful happy-day vibes. Different Creatures is an angst-driven masterpiece that overloads the soul.

“This one’s a lot more about the demons that I face — a lot of love, loss and anxiety,” lead singer Kieran Shudall said to NME when asked of the inspiration behind the album’s darkness.

The first track, “Wake Up,” sets the tone for Different Creatures right off the bat. A blaring guitar riff and rigorous drum line, with Shudall’s distinct voice piercing through the instrumentals, evoke a sense of familiarity to fans.

Just like “Wake Up,” the other songs on the album have enthralling introductions that leave the listener begging for more. In “Fire that Burns,” a chaotic introduction with a mash-up of loud drums and guitars suddenly diverges into a more streamlined, slower melody. Shudall’s voice brings a sense of stability to the chaos.

Along with the solid introductions, I really enjoyed the song placement within the album. The first few tracks are edgy and intense; they portray the band’s efforts to add some darkness and heavier rock to their music. “Goodbye,” the third song in the album, is very fierce and loud. However, it is followed by the more toned-down, soulful aesthetic of “Out On My Own.” And as epic as the fast-paced, heavy songs are, it is nice to take a break and listen to something softer while still keeping the overall tone of the album.

This contrast is most pronounced in the final song of the album,“Old Friends.” The song starts off with what sounds like a group of people having a muffled conversation. Eventually, a bluesy melody kicks in with a moody guitar and light drum beat. The instrumentals and background vocals, made up of soft “ohs,” portray the singer’s frustration towards a possessive significant other. Towards the end, the hard-rock element enters the song as the vocalist’s built-up aggression comes out. The calming effect of the song’s initial melody is shattered by raspy and loud vocals and horns.

One of my favorite tracks,  “Love’s Run Out,” is a stark contrast to the high energy of the rest of the album. It digs deep into the listener’s emotions; the lyrics portray the depth of the underlying love that inspired the track. Shudall sings the song tenderly and delicately with the backdrop of an acoustic guitar. One of the most notable aspects of the song is its conclusion — the guitar stops, and the singer says, “She texted me, Jordan,” in a hopeful tone. The ending makes “Love’s Run Out” the manifestation of a perfect love song with a personal edge.  

Different Creatures is a really commendable album. I appreciate Circa Waves’ efforts to appeal to a more diverse audience of music appreciators, such as hard-rock, and even punk-rock, fans. But, I also like how the band threw in a few, more classic alternative songs to keep their alt-rock loving fans happy.

From the intriguing introductions to its great mix of tones, the album has a lot to offer. The most notable features include the dark instrumentals and Shudall’s distinct voice, which continuously reminds me of why I enjoy listening to Circa Waves. 

I give Different Creatures a 9/10. I definitely see myself jamming to these songs on epic road trips and even walks to class in the future.

Circa Waves are currently touring in the U.K.

Contact staff writer Samantha Danshes at samantha.danshes@colorado.edu.

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