Friday, January 06, 2023

Circa Waves release pertinent new album, ‘Never Going Under’, in the face of an ever-changing world

Following the success of their 2020 release, ‘Sad Happy’, an innovative two-part work focusing on contrasting emotions, Circa Waves have shared their fifth studio album - ‘Never Going Under’. The album comprises eleven tracks, each written over the course of the pandemic by frontman Kieran Shudall.

Arguably the band’s best-developed album to date, ‘Never Going Under’ incorporates different perspectives, sounds and topics, connected by the overarching theme of worldly perception and experience.

The album sheds light on the birth of Shudall’s son during the pandemic, which triggered him to view the world and his surroundings differently, thinking more deeply about the state of the world for generations to come. Channelling these ruminations into the form of lyrics and music, ‘Never Going Under’ promotes relevant depictions of a changeable world.

Throughout Shudall’s writing, there are clever links between tracks. Most notably, ‘Northern Town’ explores his own father’s delivery of him on the landing of their house, while ‘Carry You Home’, the preceding track, poignantly reflects the recent birth of Shudall’s son. A touching tribute to the importance of family, this parallel acts as a form of coherence between tracks, and between the album as a whole.

Prior to the release of the full album on January 13th, Circa Waves have already shared ‘Do You Wanna Talk’ and its accompanying music video. The project serves as proof of the band’s wide-reaching talent, and passion to keep the creation of their art within the band itself,as the video was directed by guitarist Joe Falconer himself, utilising each musician’s respective skills so as to work on material which they feel proud of and fully responsible for.

The album’s title track, ‘Never Going Under’, which opens the record, perfectly epitomises the message the band are putting forward. Exuding positivity and a sense of resilience, Shudall sings, ‘they try to pull us down / But we’re never going under’, a comforting message in the midst of such worldly disruption that we have all experienced over the last few years.

Refreshingly, though, Circa Waves don’t just encourage a blind positivity in their record, and instead suggest that a reflection of the past and present is also important. Speaking about the single ‘Hell on Earth’ to BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, whose show the song premiered on, Shudall said:

“’Hell On Earth’ is about the world moving so fast around you you’re struggling to keep up. Record stores closing, politicians lying more than ever, social anxiety at its highest level and that general feeling some days that everything is going wrong”.

In other areas of the album, the band demonstrates their aptitude for emphatic lyricism and striking musicality by giving the listener contrasting sounds and messages. ‘Want It All Today’, for example, features soft piano riffs with edgy, syncopated vocals, while ‘Golden Days’ celebrates living in the moment, with an upbeat and euphoric sound that we have come to associate with Circa Waves following singles such as ‘T-Shirt Weather’ earlier in their career, which helped them to break into the industry and make their names heard.

However, the standout track has to be ‘Living in the Grey’, the final song on the album, which is intensely reflective: “Was it all I ever wanted? / Was it all a dream come true? / I was looking in the mirror saying, ‘who the fuck are you?’”. Beginning with an orchestral-sounding opening with a gradually building synth, the track erupts into a soaring, anthemic chorus. Boasting some of the most emotionally evocative lyrics from the record, Shudall sings, “I drink to the boy I used to be / And the man I am today”, representing a coming together of the different storylines and perspectives in the album. 

A powerfully dynamic close to the album, ‘Living in the Grey’ acts as a tribute to both the band’s ten-year career and their own personal growth within this time, offering the listener an insight into the challenges the band have faced together and individually, before concluding with the final message, “It hurts sometimes […] People say it’s black and white / But I’m living in the grey”, an acknowledgement of the fact that we are not alone in feeling lost at times in life; it is a natural experience and one which the band can relate to too.

Reflecting on the album in the official press release, Shudall summarises: ’Never Going Under’ speaks to that uniquely modern phenomenon of genuinely not knowing what type of world our kids are going to find themselves in in 30 years. Physically, environmentally, politically we are completely in the unknown. That scares us all but ultimately we know we can never give up on the future, because how can you?”

Circa Waves’ new album, ‘Never Going Under’, is out January 13th 2023. For more information on the band’s music and upcoming tour dates, see their Official Website.

Isobel Reeves


Image: ‘Never Going Under’ Official Album Cover


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