Circa Waves’ second album is far from tricky. It’s a sophisticated departure from the lavish indie pop of their debut, but it’s more self-assured, more grown-up, and it works.
When Circa Waves first burst onto the scene in 2015 with their debut album Young Chasers, they offered an escape from reality with a record full of simple yet effective indie tracks which instantly felt at home on festival fields up and down the country. Two years later, the Liverpudlian four-piece returns with Different Creatures, a heavier and more sophisticated second album which proves the band as more than just escapist indie fodder.
“Tricky” is the word often associated with a second album, especially if the first is a success. (A sold-out date at Brixton Academy following the release of Young Chasers certainly suggests Circa Waves’ debut was.) Yet, Different Creatures is quite literally just that – it’s a different creature. From the huge opening crashes of the guitar at the start of ‘Wake Up,’ the album’s opening track and first single, you can instantly tell something is different. The sound is heavier, the riffs are bigger, and the choruses are anthemic and ready for stadiums, as seen in second single ‘Fire That Burns.’ The mosh pits will be ready for the roaring ‘Goodbye,’ whilst an early highlight is the reflective ‘Out On My Own,’ a slower track that provides a break from the heavier guitars and an opportunity to pause for thought, yet still carrying a massive, infectious chorus.
However, it’s not just the sound itself that has changed and progressed. Different Creatures‘ lyrics are more mature, and there’s a personal feel to it. Frontman Kieran Shudall reflects on his own issues throughout and even gets a little political on the title track, which discusses the refugee crisis in Syria. This is all quite a departure from the forty minutes of freedom Circa Waves offered in Young Chasers, but it works, it’s welcome, and, in many ways, it’s not overly surprising: at the end of 2015, they toured with Foals, another band who developed a darker, heavier sound after lighter early outings, so it’s not as if Circa Waves are trying something completely untested.
One thing Different Creatures has not lost is radio-friendly singles ready to become fan favourites. ‘Stuck,’ for example, is a great song and one you can expect to hear fitting into the likes of BBC Radio 1 and Radio X, whilst the record is also excellent at slowing things down when necessary. The acoustic ‘Love’s Run Out’ is simple, quite sad, but shows Circa Waves to have some depth and that they aren’t entirely about the big riffs and mosh pits.
The development of Circa Waves is impressive – this record feels ambitious and more mature, shedding any concern that they would be an indie one-album wonder. Where other bands have failed to stay relevant, Circa Waves have – whether consciously or not – realised change is good, so if Young Chasers offered escapism, Different Creatures is more realistic and self-assured.
Different Creatures is released on March 10th via Virgin EMI