Pain is a strange and cruel currency for an artist; to be profitable in its trade you must already be bankrupt, to have your work legitimised and authenticated by it you must first be broken and to experience its successes you must potentially lose more than you could ever gain back. Unfortunately, Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green has a great deal of insight into this predicament. During the creation of the band’s third album, ‘Blue Sky Noise’, his band split with their management and traversed the rough seas of exploitation trying to find a new record deal, his wife was dealt a tragic blow of consecutive miscarriages and Green himself entered into a psychiatric hospital as he felt the last threads of his fraying sanity tearing their way loose from his being. His reward for such desolation? A major label contract, a high-charting and critically-acclaimed collection of 12 songs, plus a number of signposts that all seemingly point at a mythical location of endless bounty and exquisite joy, the path stepped towards it known simply as ‘making it’. Pain made this record a nightmare to create, but curiously that same pain gave this record its ability to be unique, vital and perhaps even important. ‘Blue Sky Noise’ was a work conceived in deep shade but the record still creates plenty of space for light to mix with air so that, when the wind swells underneath their musicianship, Circa Survive’s music not only takes flight but also soars higher and further than ever before. Tracks like ‘The Longest Mile’ showcase beautiful form through rambunctious ascendance, ‘Get Out’ has endearing petulance and a climbing, brattish stomp, while ‘Through The Desert Alone’ delivers the patented raised-hair effect through an astounding union of harmonic power and heartbreaking premise. Loyal fans of the band will endlessly debate the stylistic differences between this album and the much beloved 07 release ‘On Letting Go’. Gone is producer Brian McTernan and taken with him are the guitar overdubs, delicate layers of delay and rolling, laconic songs that ebb and swell rather than crash and burn. This may be a stumbling block for a faction of diehards but what Circa Survive have lost they more than gain through the wincing ‘Frozen Creek’, the blustery ‘Dyed In The Wool’ and the pent up tension and monster riffing of ‘Imaginary Enemy’. ‘Blue Sky Noise’ is a record only made possible by the creativity of a group, but the songs are animated by the experience, desperation and sheer agony that crawl over Green’s timbre and scale. This is not just another record dropping off the end of the factory line, a product necessitated by touring or press requirements, it is a document of falling apart and piecing back together. It inspires, haunts and moves through the torrid turns, distorted noise and eloquent harmonies that run rampant throughout. Listening to the album when fully engaged with the story of its creation is both exhausting and exhilarating. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius? Very possibly.
There's been some actual news this week. The Movielifereformed, Fightstarreturned from hiatus, and then there was Emoji Artworks. But sadly, today is our last #notthenews round-up of 2014. Try to hold back those tears while we recap all of this week's nonsense.