To celebrate the release of their 2015 debut full-length Young Chasers, Liverpool four-piece Circa Waves played a sold out show in New Slang, Kingston-upon-Thames to around four-hundred fans. By the end of that album cycle, they had headlined the prestigious Brixton Academy, played on late night TV in the US, and were named ‘band of the weekend’ in an NME readers poll following their surprise set at Glastonbury 2015. After retreating to the studio for most of 2016, Circa Waves are back with Different Creatures; a darker and more eclectic follow-up to their sun-kissed debut.
Circa Waves waste no time announcing the sonic departure from their older material with ‘Wake Up’, ‘Fire That Burns’ and ‘Goodbye’ showing a more urgent, alt-rock tinged sound than anything the band have previously released – the latter featuring a drop tuned guitar echoing early Queens of the Stone Age. This moodier sound is further explored on tracks: ‘Different Creatures’, the orchestral ‘A Night on Broken Tiles’, and the bass driven, Pixies-esque ‘Stuck’. For a band like Circa Waves whose debut album was immensely successful, such a drastic change in style is a brave move indeed, but luckily they pull it off with enough conviction that it never sounds forced or awkward.
Different Creatures is punctuated by three slower songs, the first of which, ‘Out On My Own’, comes only four songs in. At over five minutes long, this sudden change of pace takes away the energy the band had built up to that point, and with only two songs between it and the second acoustic song, ‘Love’s Run Out’, the album takes a while to pick up again. Thankfully ‘Crying Shame’ and ‘Without You’ inject some of the upbeat indie-pop fun of Circa Waves’ debut to balance out these more laid-back tracks.
Circa Waves deliver some alternative rock gems on Different Creatures, but the stop-start nature of the record cause it to feel more like an expansive collection of songs rather than a cohesive whole.