I was thumbing through my stack of albums sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed this morning. I honestly didn’t know what I was in the mood for. Did I want optimistic and light-hearted or did I want some a bit more serious or more just singer-songwriter. I procrastinated by going through my unopened mail from the week and making another cup of coffee. One last browse through the pile and I spotted the album I knew I had to review this morning. Circus of the West’s ‘ Ring’ has an amusing cover of a guy with a hula-hoop wearing nothing more than some rolled up jeans, sandals, and giant headphones. I don’t know why I was so drawn to this album but it looked fun and there was something energetic about it. I was hoping it was just what I needed to get my day going and, as I hit play on my stereo, I knew I had made the right choice.
I was intrigued as “Giant Slayer” started playing. It kicked off with a couple of seconds of silence before moving into an almost classical inspire diddy and then, just like that, the album crashed into me with a giant wall of sound and fun. I instantly fell in love with Circus of the West’s unique blend of pop melodies with an almost 90’s vibe to the rock n’ roll instrumentation. Vocalist Edwin Caldie has one of those voices that is very comforting and familiar but also completely unique and one of a kind. I was already overwhelmed by this seven song album by the time “Giant Slayer” closed out and I couldn’t help but listen to it a couple more times before moving on to “Until It’s Not”.
“Until It’s Not” starts with a simple sounding acoustic guitar pattern. Although this song is just as upbeat and infectious as “Giant Slayer”, there’s a sense of heartbreak in Edwin’s voice as he sings through the words of this song. This may only be the second song on this album but I was already getting a vibe for Circus of the West as a whole and that’s a huge thing to be able to say so quickly in an album. Although there are stark differences between the first two songs, they are both so distinctively Circus of the West’s. “Unit It’s Not” stops fairly abruptly but, no need to fair, “Alex and the Knot” is there to pick you up before you fall into silence.
The most ballad-like song on the album, “Alex and the Knot” can only be described as beautiful. You can hear the passion and heart-break in the words and can hear a sense of delicacy in all of the instrumentation but, most specifically, in the piano parts (which everyone knows I’m a sucker for). The entire band comes in for an energetic but still very delicate and well thought out chorus that, although upbeat and full of life at first listen, still has a sense of pain hidden under all of the sound. After another delicate verse, the track ends with a sense of power and defiance that leads into “Love Always” in the most perfect way.
“Love Always” keeps the ballad-like vibe laid out in “Alex and the Knot” going but there’s something more optimistic in the vibe behind “Love Always” that wasn’t as clear during “Alex and the Knot” and, once the entire band comes in, turns to a completely vibe with strong almost country vibe to it once again proving that this band is all over the place and has a sound that is truly all their own. I expected the vibe to go back to the happy-go-lucky sound of the first two tracks for “Saint Teresa” and that’s exactly what happen. The contract between “Love Always” and “Saint Teresa” is almost startling but the songs being back to back on this album is genius. Maybe the horns had been in this album all along but this track was the first time I really noticed them. The horns mixed with a guitar sound that seems to have also been hidden in the previous tracks makes this song feel bigger and fuller than the previous ones but still clearly Circus of the West’s.
With only two songs left on ‘Ring’, I figured I had heard it all and “Forever With You” would be just a culmination of everything I had heard in the previous five songs. Well, it was that but also so much more. With an ear-wormy chorus and a sense of darkness in the vocals that hadn’t been played out previously, Circus of the West clearly still had some curve balls to throw at me and I was catching them happily. Although “Forever With You” isn’t my favorite track on this album when it comes to the lyrics, it is my favorite when it comes to everything else. The song is kind of all over the place and seems to showcase each member and the different influence each of the members brings in a way that doesn’t come off as showy or confusing.
‘Ring’ closes out with a triumphant track titled “Little Bit of Sun”. Although it ends the album with a sense of power, you still get that happy-go-lucky vibe that was laid out in the previous songs that makes this band one of those bands that is good listening no matter what mood you’re in. “Little Bit of Sun” ends with an almost jam-rock vibe to it as it fades out and leaves you in silence that, at least in my case, was quickly replaced by hitting play so I could experience this album again.
It takes more than just talent to create such a diverse soundscape in just seven songs– it takes a sense of genius and Circus of the West has nailed it.
My Favorite Track(s): “Little Bit of Sun”; “Forever With You”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6.5 out of 10
For Fans Of: 90’s Music; Innovation; Smiling
Dance-ability: 8.3 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis laid on the couch; Autumn stalked the kitchen hoping for second breakfast
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.1 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5
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