Release Date: Mar 10, 2017
Record label: Virgin EMI
Two years on from their youthfully nervy debut, Liverpool's Circa Waves are showing signs of an assured maturity on their sophomore album, 2017's confidently delivered Different Creatures. On 2015's aptly titled Young Chasers, Circa Waves lead singer/songwriter Kieran Shudall cooed and sneered his way through a wave of kinetic post-punk that seemed born as much out of teen angst and a boyish enthusiasm as his obvious love of influences like Arctic Monkeys and the Strokes. While still clearly carrying a torch for early-2000s neo-post-punk, Shudall and his Circa Waves bandmates are now road-hardened tour vets, indie rock prodigal sons returned home to reconnect with old mates over a pint, figure out how their relationships went so awry, and contextualize the insanity of the past few years.
Circa Waves' debut, 2015's 'Young Chasers', was an exercise in boyish exuberance brimming with 00s-inspired riffs. For this follow-up, the Merseyside quartet are determined to step things up a notch. 'Different Creatures' is brasher than its predecessor, with a heavier, more distorted sound. The band have their gaze firmly set on being future festival headliners, stacked as it is with massive alt-rock tracks.
Anyone who heard Circa Waves' 2015 debut album 'Young Chasers' probably wouldn't expect them to return with an awful lot to say about the world's big issues. It was perfectly enjoyable - a record of fizzing indie-pop about love and lust - but also a little lightweight. It wasn't the kind of album you clutch tight when everything around you is going to s**t.
In many ways, Circa Waves arrived just a little too late. As the last of the 00's British indie bands dispersed, the Liverpool group emerged with the straightforward Young Chasers, focusing on light, quirky riffs and singalong choruses. It was undoubtedly enjoyable, but it failed to bring anything new to a genre that had reached its saturation point long before.
Y ou wouldn't know it from the hordes of producers, MCs and experimental R&B singers about at the moment, but the influence of the 00s indie explosion continues to echo throughout UK music - not just in the scene's survivors but also in new bands, such as Wolf Alice and the Rhythm Method, for whom skinny jeans and angular riffs are formative influences. Circa Waves belong to the latter camp - though few bands wear their nostalgia quite as heavily as this Liverpudlian foursome. It leaves their second album feeling not only retro but slightly lazy, too: there's nothing distinguishing this lot from the more disposable products of last decade's guitar-rock boom.
The second album for any band is a hefty mark to step up to. For bands like Circa Waves, who find themselves firmly within the restrictive walls of indie, there is added pressure in not mimicking their previous selves - or anyone else for that matter. Add a year of waiting in between the release of 2015's 'Young Chasers' and last Friday's release of 'Different Creatures' and you're sure to witness notorious Second Album Syndrome.