“We’ve been working hard on this record all year and are so, so happy with it. We know you’re going to love it!”, announce Liverpool quartet Circa Waves on their website as the current welcoming message heralds in their second album after 2015’s debut, Young Chasers. So, is this a case of blinkered, hyped-up over confidence, or a justifiably bullish belief that they genuinely are unleashing something special?
They’ve been quoted as stating that Different Creatures is going to be “the best record of all-time” and “the future of rock music”, so the confidence is certainly overflowing. Having opened the 2014 NME Awards Tour before the likes of Royal Blood, Temples and Interpol just a year after their formation, maybe it’s no wonder that they’re confident chaps.
Van McCann, frontman of Welsh indie rockers Catfish And The Bottlemen coincidentally made similar claims about greatness prior to the release of their own second long player, The Ride, last year, claiming that it was “miles better” than their debut and about to shock people as to how good they had become. Despite its singles securing a considerable amount of airplay from some major radio stations – particularly Radio X – it was good, but hardly the next classic in waiting.
Circa Waves have been compared to both the Bottlemen and another young band to blast onto the scene in recent times, Wolf Alice. Before then, their debut had garnered comparisons to The Strokes, presumably more to do with singer Kieran Shudall’s vocal effects he employed rather than much else and Two Door Cinema Club, a band Circa Waves recently supported at London’s Alexandra Palace, are another they’ve been mentioned in the same breath as.
Straight from the off, things appear to be noticeably heavier than the debut. Ear piercing guitars screech into play, their attention grabbing urgency leading into more thunderous, racing guitars that act like a blistering wake up call and it’s an instant indication of where Different Creatures is going. Goodbye arrives in similar fashion, with belted out guitars and percussion, this time the chorus reaches anthemic proportions – another common trait revealed as the album progresses. The racing guitars again dominate the highly infectious Crying Shame whilst the up tempo title track breezes along with bursts of guitar sounding something like The Boxer Rebellion in doing so.
Tribal drumming and rubbery bass provide the lead in for Stuck, the song benefiting from yet another hideously catchy chorus that will please the young target audience but for listeners after something a little more mature, the template could be perceived as being flogged a little by now. There is a brief break from the onslaught, namely the acoustic strummed Love’s Run Out, sounding all very Libertines, a band with whom a 2014 tour resulted in the band claiming that the tour “changed everything” for them. Also, one of only two songs to top four minutes – Out On My Own – employs quieter sections with guitar bursts leading to a soaring chorus for some more respite from the norm as does the laid back Waterloo Sunset recalling closing track Old Friends. It’s the excellent Fire That Burns that steals the album, though, where crashing drums, sing-a-long verses, an outstanding bridge and anthemic chorus combine perfectly.
Whilst obviously not the best album of all-time, Different Creatures adds considerable weight to the band’s growing ambitions, and at this point in time Circa Waves probably represent an upgrade on Catfish And The Bottlemen, leaving them hot on the heels of The 1975 and Wolf Alice. They want to headline festivals, release massive records, rule the world: they’re still some way off the top, but there’s evidence that they may well achieve their goals if they continue to take leaps forward like this.