Circus Fires- All Living Things
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: August 10, 2013
It seems as though I've been drifting away from music like this. It's true, 2012 and 2013 have had me completely submerged in a sea of punkity-pop-punk like The Wonder Years, Title Fight, and Citizen (or pretty much anything on Run For Cover or No Sleep, for that matter). While that wasn't a bad thing by any means, it made my first listen of Circus Fires' debut hit that much harder. Throughout a collection of consistent indie crescendos and slow-burners, two things immediately became apparent: 1) This is one hell of a debut album, and 2) These guys should absolutely blow up upon this release.
"No One Likes a Morbid Bastard" kicks off All Living Things with a slow, distinguished guitar-line and the words "Used to feel like/a movie where you thought/you knew where it would end." The songs builds itself up, vocals straining over the words "Always feeling lonely when you're never alone" until the song drops back into the way it introduced itself, leading into the faster-paced "Shelter". It's an epic note that sets the tone for most of what you're about to hear next.
Circus Fires brings a unique combination of indie-creativity and musicianship that I can only really liken to Mancherster Orchestra circa- I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child. However, that comparison mainly grows stronger due to the amount of sheer talent tapped into on the bands' first full-lengths. "Shelter" shows off the quicker, more energetic side of the band with fantastic guitar work and pristine vocals that highlight tracks to come throughout All Living Things. "A Gentleman's Curse" does a fine job of combining the aformentioned elements, leaving room for deep harmonies, dark territory and brooding bass. It's not easy to pinpoint standouts on records this consistent, which is why it's tough to mention exactly where you'll be hooked listening to All LivingThings.
"These Synapses Fire Blanks" is a catchy affair, starting with chugging guitars that begin to climb after the first verse and a solo (complete with hand-claps!) that bursts into the fantastic, drop-everythings bridge of "This town is a high school reunion six years before its time/and I don't want to be looking into disapproving eyes/Every day, these cretins learn one more thing I have done/And every day these cretins learn one more way to ruin my fun." What comes next almost feels like an upbeat intermission of sorts, with "Submission" providing an excellent break to catch your breath over softer guitar-lines and harmonics while "Pull Oceans" continues this feel overtop darker Explosions in the Sky-esque musicianship and excellent drum-work. A distant, gang-vocal-laiden bridge seems to separate and breathe life into the second half of the track until its epic, fiery conclusion.
"Earthbound" finds the second half of the record at one of its mellowest points, blending falsetto harmonies and the sounds of a space shuttle lift-off. "Hey, have you ever had one of those days/Where everything goes perfectly, and perfect's not your place" may be the lyrical focal point of All Living Things at its peak, during the storm of instrumentation heard in "Spent Bullets" that carries into the beautiful-yet-aggressive "A Bloody Ransom For a New Life". The song's rolling bass leads into Circus Fires' strongest chorus, anchored by the line "You could learn a thing or two from me/because I've learned to lose and still be free".
Coming to a conclusion with "III. Ship Captain", the band leaves you with soft guitar that paves the way fo full-band fun and lyrical chops that go to show exactly why All Living Things should stick a landing with the indie community. Circus Fires succeed in releasing not only one of the strongest debuts I've ever heard, but what should be seen as one of the best albums to appear out of the blue this year. Should they take off, here's to wishing them luck with the success that should follow All Living Things and continuing to release music that easily surpasses some of their peers.