As part of the human condition, there are universal moments that will always leave us wistful and dewy-eyed, longing for a picturesque moment that no longer exists and can never exist again. These ubiquitous moments that invade human emotion include late night drives with the windows down in the backseat of your best friend’s car, or your lover bringing you coffee in bed, or most notably, the grandeur of the feeling of the beach.
Circa Waves, an indie rock band from Liverpool (kind of like The Strokes if they were pop), captures the art of reminiscing through their essence of romantic, summertime guitar pop rock. Their junior album, What’s It Like Over There, exhibits their knack for playing into sentimentality, digging into spaces that pluck on the human heartstrings and operate on nostalgia.
In 2015, Circa Waves released their debut album, Young Chasers, which launched the wild success of their hit single “T-shirt Weather.” The comparisons between “T-shirt Weather” and the single that drives their junior album, “Movies,” are endless. Both singles feature Circa Waves’s niche of extremely catchy, melodic and guitar-driven reminiscing. “T-shirt Weather” came from an album which interrogated life among the clouds, with summertime lyrics: “I remember T-shirt weather, I remember some days, we were singing out lungs in the backseat together.” “Movies, ”which carries What’s It Like Over There, operates in the same manner, banking on the emotional state created when driving around: “Remember when we drove your car down the road? It was just like in the movies.”
While What’s It Like Over There regresses in some areas to the symbolism and romantic emotions of their debut album and at the same time relying heavily on the pre-released singles which carry the album, What’s It Like Over There exhibits development in exploring spaces that are authentic versus spaces that are insincere. Circa Waves impresses with their extension into darker moments, weaving between guitar driven, upbeat energy into dark and soft moments which cross-examine the link between our environment and our integrity.
The opening song, “What’s It like Over There,” starts with the stark removal of the listener from a genuine environment. The beginning of the song creates an auditory heaven, the sounds of crashing waves and the soft chirping of seagulls in the distance. Swiftly, this paradise is cut, with the sound of heavy footsteps and a garage door closing, removing the listeners from the nirvana of the beach. The cover art for the album, shot at Greatstone Beach, includes a man and woman in the ocean, one covering the eyes of the other. This art, paired with the opening track, immediately links self-reflection with one’s physical surroundings. Circa Waves plays into the common trope of indie-rock: questioning authenticity.
Circa Waves then makes multiple references to morality. The song “Me, Myself, and Hollywood” darkens the mood with a savage bass line and a metronome-esque drum sequence, with questioning lyrics: “Have I been sad like I thought I would? And have I been bad? Or have I been good? In Hollywood.” Good versus evil intent is contemplated throughout, interlacing between spaces that question a humans’ rectitude (Hollywood) and pure, honest spaces that are “just like in the movies” (from track “Movies”).
The dark twists into self-doubt paired with the airy, buoyancy of guitar pop-rock that one comes to expect from Circa Waves makes this album a strong candidate for summer time drives, with the windows down, in the backseat of your best friend’s car.