Circa Waves – Never Going Under

Right from the very start, Circa Waves’ new album is one of resilience.

Label: Lower Third
Released: 13th January 2023

Right from the very start, Circa Waves’ new album is one of resilience. Marking their fifth record in a career that kicked off with indie-rock naivety and has grown into something more mature and more interesting with each step forward, it is a triumphant declaration of hope on a planet that offers trauma at every corner.

After their last effort, ‘Sad Happy’, was disrupted by the Infection Which Must Not Be Named, the desire to launch themselves back onto rowdy stages clearly festered behind closed doors; the result is eleven songs that land on a similar spectrum between joy and pain, but fuse them together succinctly in a tight package tied off with a thunderous flourish.

Opener ‘Never Going Under’ is a riotous example of this, detailing the grit needed to survive the ‘Hell on Earth’ we collectively experience in 2023. ‘Golden Days’ offers a purely celebratory festival banger, while ‘Your Ghost’ and ‘Electric City’ twist common ideas into something new and undeniably catchy.

Having spent the last three years watching his son grow up while chaos reigned around him, frontman and songwriter Kieran Shudall has been awakened to complicated and intriguing ideas which lead to deceptively layered cuts. The quartet maintain pop sensibilities with a feverish sonic immediacy, but their progression as a band is, as ever, plain to see.

Apt closer ‘Living in the Grey’ is an admirable example of this, blurring the black-and-white worlds they’d only truly explored in isolation beforehand. Recalling a time when Shudall couldn’t find happiness in his own success, it’s clear that he is now in a place with a much broader perspective; one where he can take an honest look at the abysmal state of the world and uphold the ambition to make things better, even in the smallest of ways.

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