With a funky carnival vibe, rich mix of gritty guitars and synths, Sad Happy is Circa Waves’
latest musical masterpiece.
Whilst we were all still jamming out to T-Shirt Weather, the Liverpudlian indie-rock gem
Circa Waves released their newest 15 track album Sad Happy on March 13th 2020. It’s safe
to say that the hype has been well-founded and lengthy – the band began promoting the
album in November 2019, teasing fans with that iconic album art and those catchy singles.
Interestingly split into two halves: “sad” and “happy”, the album is jam packed with songs
that lure out every emotion. With an almost warped carnival theme, the band really shows
how far they have come since their last two albums What’s It Like Over There? and Different Creatures. Frontman Kieran Shudall produced the album and told HMV that he felt as if he was “ready to do it [himself] this time”.
Kicking the album off with a punchy congo tune is Jacqueline which is the first single on the
record. It feels like summer and I’m sure the band would encourage you to have a good ‘ol
boogie to it. The music video features the band orchestrating a demonic conga line whilst a
boy and girl make eyes over a swimming pool… it’s definitely not one to miss.
Move To San Francisco is the second single and it’s about time we were given another
brilliant road trip song. With a colourful chorus and an overall dreamy, freeing feel, Move
To San Francisco is a tune you should be quick to put on first in the car.
The final single Sad Happy encapsulates the feeling of the album as a whole – starkly
bittersweet. A distorted, 80s style guitar carries the track along with a foot-tapping drum
beat whilst Kieran’s lyrics are mellow and sad. If you’re not sure whether to dance or cry
with this one, it’s okay – I didn’t know either. Both works.
The rest of the album is both refreshingly new and a homage to their previous records.
Whilst the “sad” side of the album is weary and full of tracks that perfectly sing of the pain
of human emotion, it doesn’t pull the album down. Nostalgic traces of What’s It Like Over
There? are quietly sprinkled in songs like Wake Up Call and Sympathy. Wake Up Call is
another song on the record that has the ability to sound both sad and happy with a cheerful piano theme and building drum beat, but melancholy lyrics of finally seeing reason to escape a depressive lifestyle. “I’ve been lying to myself for weeks / your wake up call that I want / I’m just trying to find my way back home / for your wake up call” finish the chorus with a painful twang.
Over on the “happy” side of the album, familiar Strokes-esque bass lines, adventurous
synths and gritty guitar melodies definitely set the mood for those days when you just want
to dance around the kitchen. Be Your Drug is definitely this side’s standout track with it’s
thumping bassline, catchy beat and almost shouted chorus. “You need a fix of good ‘ol me” – we certainly do.
Sad Happy is undoubtedly one of Circa Waves’ best records yet. Creating a myriad of
sounds that perfectly emulate the complexity of human emotions, it’s hard not to find a
track that makes you feel even a little bit bittersweet. The future looks great for Circa
Waves – this is only the beginning.
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