CIRCA WAVES – Different Creatures
THE GOOD: British indie rockers Circa Waves deliver a tight second.
THE BAD: “Different Creatures” is satisfying guitar-driven rock, but it’s also formulaic. Jimmy Eat World, the Wombats, the 1975 — all good bands but none are game-changers. Circa Waves fall in with this predictable lot.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Turn it on, turn it up and drink in the infectious chorus of lead single “Wake Up,” the full-bodied stadium sway carrying “Out on My Own” or the jagged riffs and layered crunch on “Stuck.” Frontman Kieran Shudall leads his crew through ten cranking melodic anthems and one delicate acoustic breather (the somber “Love’s Run Out”). There really isn’t a dud in the bunch.
At the same time though, we’ve heard “Creatures” many times before; the standard guitar, bass, drum line-up only goes so far. Still, not every band can reinvent the wheel. Go in with reasonable expectations and you’ll come out unscathed while hearing some decent hooks in the process. That’s enough.
BUY IT?: Your choice.
TEMPLES – Volcano
THE GOOD: British neo-psychedelic rockers Temples dodge the sophomore slump.
THE BAD: The ‘60s throwbacks on their first album have been mostly replaced with a lot of synthetic sounds. This shift in direction may turn off some long time fans.
THE NITTY GRITTY: However, get past the sonic changes and you’re in for a real treat. “Volcano” is a majestic set filled with graceful swaths of the Baroque and giddy patches of pure sunshine pop. Right from the start, the record immediately pulls you in with those divine swirling keyboard riffs that bring about opening track “Certainty.” You will smile, and that smile won’t disappear for the better part of an hour.
“I Wanna Be Your Mirror” and “Strange or Be Forgotten” play like pretty posh Victorian-era period pieces. “Born into the Sunset” recalls some of Tame Impala’s more accessible and soaring tracks. “Mystery of Pop” gallops about the room while sending your head to dizzying heights; Mercury Rev crossed with gooey bubblegum. It’s all so glorious.
BUY IT?: Yes.
REAL ESTATE – In Mind
THE GOOD: New Jersey indie rockers Real Estate shuffle their line up and come back with a fourth.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Guitarist Matt Mondanile has left the building, concentrating solely on his side project Ducktails; “In Mind” being the first Real Estate album with new guitarist Julian Lynch. Lead vocalist/guitarist Martin Courtney is still getting his bearings within these new surroundings, but he’s making sure the harmonies and melodies aren’t suffering.
“In Mind” is another graceful collection with just enough distortion spread over the top in all the right places to make us feel all warm and cozy without being TOO complacent. It’s tough to resist the classic Byrds/Teenage Fanclub jangle on tracks like “Stained Glass” and “White Light.” Other cuts are throwbacks to records both trippy (the swirling six-strings of “Two Arrows”) and folksy (the delicate protest on “Diamond Eyes”). The retro synths blooping and bleeping on “Holding Pattern” even conjure up memories of prime Stereolab.
BUY IT?: Yes.