'Sadder, Happier' EP Review: Circa Waves follow up on 'Sad, Happy' with an experimental and 'angry' affair
The English indie rock band Circa Waves released a new emotive EP of five songs called 'Sadder, Happier' this week. The EP is a follow-up to their previous introspective double-sided album entitled 'Sad, Happy', which was released earlier this year in two installments. The band first released the 'Happy' side in January, and then later released the 'Sad' complement in March 2020. This full-length effort earned them positive reviews from fans and critics, who instantly connected with their brand of melodic, bittersweet, emotional music that explored the bewitching, tech-saturated, insecure age we live in. It became their highest charting release to date, debuting at #4 in the UK Official Album Charts.
The talented Liverpudlian band comprising vocalist/guitarist Kieran Shudall, guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke, and drummer Colin Jones have opted for a more experimental approach on this new EP entitled 'Sadder, Happier'. As the name suggests, it builds on the themes they explored on 'Sad, Happy', and consists of five diverse unreleased tracks, including an acoustic version of the lead single 'Sad Happy' from their previous album.
This new version of 'Sad Happy' retains the wistful yearning of the original song, while reimagining it as a more intimate, stripped-down piece that feels like vocalist Kieran Shudall is baring his heart and soul to you. Although it sounds less bouncy and poppier than the first iteration, that actually helps this song's cause, because you get to focus on the heartfelt lyrics more this time around.
The swirling and booming 'Gun In My Hand', features some raucous fuzzed-out guitars and dreamy synth work. "This is the only place I feel at home / I'm surrounded but I'm all alone / Caught in the middle with a gun in my hand," declares Shudall with a feverish intensity.
'The Only One Who Lets Me In' features some sparkling acoustic guitar strummed over the soul-searching lyrics - "Where am I going / What have I done? / I've played the game so many times / But I've never won." The song then veers into groovy, poppy territory, as the romantic synths introduce a more tender, sentimental vibe and Shudall admits "I'm falling into the pattern of just living / Where have you been? / You're the only one who lets me in."
'Sugar Side' is a sweet, upbeat indie rock number featuring electronic drums and guitars that gradually build and swell as the song unfolds. "I don't know where I belong tonight / Meet me on the sugar side," says Shudall, before the song explodes into a shimmering crescendo of majestic proportions.
The closing track, 'Anti Social Anxiety' is a laidback, slow-bouncing, bass-heavy bop that explores the detachment and disillusionment most people feel in our modern age. "I've been working on myself you see / Somewhat unsuccessfully / I've been listening to the news too much / Partial ignorance would do some good / From what I understand, we're misunderstood / Oh, my love" announces Shudall with blasé elan amid some gorgeous melodic textures.
“It’s quite an angry EP,” their frontman Kieran Shudall revealed. “Evidently I was quite pissed off while writing these songs. Lyrically it’s a bit more disenfranchised and talks about my issues with society, and it’s more self-deprecation of me being like ‘I’m annoyed at myself, I wish I was better’. But it’s cathartic, it’s all good for the soul.” We're certainly pleased with their varied styles and wide range of movement on this EP, and look forward to more tunes from the dynamic Circa Waves in the future. You can listen to 'Sadder, Happier' from Circa Waves by clicking here.