Liverpool 4-piece Circa Waves are back with their second album, ‘Different Creatures’, and in their latest press photos, the band look rather moody, all bathed in red light and black leather-clad. The stylistic rebellion carries on musically: if their indie-debut, ‘Young Chasers’, was a carefree soundtrack to the joys and anxieties of youth, ‘Different Creatures’ is its harder hitting cousin – an altogether rockier and darker body of work.
The album opens with a rush of guitars and drums on ‘Wake Up’ – a clear message that this is how Circa Waves will be sounding from now on, like it or not. It is also a broken love song: ‘it’s just a little too late for conversations…a bit too much ground for me to make up’ sings frontman Kieran Shudall. This is a genre that Shudall excels in on the album, no more so than on ‘Fire That Burns’, where melodic song writing is combined to dramatic effect with the band’s new heavier sound.
Overall, there is great feeling of anger on ‘Different Creatures’. From troubled romance, Shudall turns his hand to politics and the refugee crisis on the album’s name-sake ‘Different Creatures’. A reaction to the UK government’s decision to cap the number of refugees admitted to Britain at 20,000, the frontman defiantly sings ‘go on close our borders’; his compassion for the ’20,000…making us our home’ is mixed with the defeated ‘I don’t know how to feel alive’, as he’s left incredulous towards the current state of politics in the world.
Introspection and fear also loom large on the album. On ‘Out On My Own’, Shudall contemplates the hardship of finding your place in the world: ‘I can go it alone but my shoulders are growing so weak’ – an all-too familiar realization for twenty-somethings of what the real world can be like. Meanwhile, the familiar Circa Waves riff accompanies thoughts of boredom and feeling trapped on the catchy ‘Stuck’. It’s a comment on the laziness and vanity of our Instagram-obsessed generation: ‘you catch a couple of hours of poisonous TV…look around and see that you are stuck’.
But for fans of the band’s earlier work, fear not, there is also a tone of forgiveness and hope on ‘Different Creatures’. On ‘Stuck’, Shudall concludes with optimism, seeing through our flaws: ‘just keep holding on/the sun’s been and gone/and we’re just beginning’. ‘Love Runs Out’, meanwhile, is a gentle acoustic love-song, whilst songs like ‘Crying Shame’ showcase what the band has always done best: ripping riffs and great sing-along ‘wherever you go, I go’ choruses.
‘Different Creatures’ is a mature second album for Circa Waves, a comment on a world in a state of flux and a musical muse on the ups and downs of finding your way in the world as a young adult. The band’s quality songwriting is still intact but there’s more force this time round. In a recent interview ahead of a gig at London’s eponymous Rough Trade Records, frontman Kieran Shudall confirmed this, saying: “Now, I want us to be the biggest and the best. I want to headline festivals”. You can definitely hear it on ‘Different Creatures’; Circa Waves are back with a bang.