Circa Waves teases an underwhelming album with “Happy”

The first half of Circa Waves’ upcoming album brings familiar indie-rock tropes in an uninspired project.


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The second half of the British band’s album will release in March.

Sammy Newcomer, Freelance Writer

After a brief pause in new releases, British indie-rock outfit Circa Waves has returned with half of their upcoming album. With “Sad Happy” releasing in March, the group has fittingly titled this half “Happy.”  


The intention behind the new album, according to frontman Kieran Shudell, is to point to the seemingly arbitrary line between happiness and its opposite. The songs in this project speak of the fleeting pleasures of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, suggesting what makes people “happy” at a surface level is not truly sufficient. “Be Your Drug” and “Wasted on You,” for example, compare romantic relationships to abusable substances, both of which are enjoyable but not sustainable. 

The irony behind this message is that these tracks portray what they warn against. The project’s 20-minute runtime exclusively brings mildly enjoyable songs but adds nothing unique or exciting to the genre. They bring the exact fleeting, substanceless pleasure they warn against and are only slightly entertaining  to begin with. Rather than offering anything of musical or lyrical substance, Circa Waves offers no solution to the problem they detail in these songs. 


The record is clearly taking after many of its contemporaries, yet fails to live up to nearly all of them. It does not have the experimentation of “The Strokes, ” the great vocals of “Cage the Elephant” or the edge of “Arctic Monkeys.” Instead, Circa Waves provides a collection of unmemorable tracks with generic hooks and lackluster instrumentation. 

The opening track, “Jacqueline,” is possibly the best, yet it still fails to truly impress. While catchy, its guitar riffs and repeated vocals are nothing new for indie-rock fans. Slower songs “The Things We Knew Last Night” and “Love You More” take after acoustic groups such as “Cage the Elephant” and “The Lumineers.” Unfortunately, Shudall’s shoddy and off-pitch vocals simply are not sufficient to carry these ballads. 

Ultimately, “Happy” fails to leave listeners with anything memorable. While none of the songs are egregious, their immense mediocrity results in an entirely uninteresting project. Listeners can only hope the remaining tracks on “Sad Happy” include the meaning and substance these tracks desperately need.

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