Review: Circa Waves – ‘Fire That Burns’

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'Fire That Burns' is an enjoyable and catchy cut from Circa Waves' new, heavier direction, although it unfortunately lacks a bit in personality and distinctiveness.

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‘Fire That Burns,’ the second single from Circa Waves’ upcoming second album Different Creatures, follows up on first single ‘Wake Up‘ in signifying the band’s lean into a slightly new stylistic territory. As with ‘Wake Up,’ they have traded in the major key, distorted jangle pop of 2015’s Young Chasers into something altogether moodier and aggressive, recalling bands like Twin Atlantic. However, ‘Fire That Burns’ functions well as a bridge between their old and new styles: opening with a pummel of heavily distorted power chords, the song quickly slips back to a more minimalist verse structure with a delay-drenched guitar line hooking in well to the surging bass and drums. Its pre-chorus builds into staccato and layered guitar picking before opening up into a euphoric chorus built up of huge blocks of distorted guitar and heavy percussion.

Kieran Shudall gives a nice performance of his somewhat intense lyrics and delivers some enjoyable and relatively catchy hooks, although his delivery is oddly unemotional given how intense his lyrics are. (“You call me a liar / You call me so innocent,” the entertaining chorus couplet, is delivered in such a bizarrely straight way it’s difficult to get completely invested, despite its catchiness.) Indeed, this hands-off, near clinical outlook pervades throughout ‘Fire That Burns’ to make it seem a bit by-the-numbers. Its structure – a traditional Pixies-like loud/quiet/loud dynamic – is used effectively, yet again it’s arguably a tad predictable and even the middle 8 of a last-minute swell of ever-building guitar and bass it feels adherent to a template.

This is not to say the song (and the band) is not effective – ‘Fire That Burns’ is enjoyable, catchy, and well put together. However, it regularly feels like it was created by committee, with everything fitting into an amiable if not particularly unique blueprint. This has the unfortunate tendency of shedding a bit of personality, especially compared with the band’s previous efforts. Nevertheless, it still works well and is another fun, if not overly thrilling, addition to their catalogue with a new record a month or so away.

‘Fire That Burns’ is out now via Virgin EMI

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A third year History student, who has spent most of his time at university either messing around in the university's Performing Arts societies and/or hoarding and enjoying pop culture in all its flavours.

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