2021 was the year Circa Survive metamorphosed. After four years away, the Philadelphia crew relocated to a whole other musical continent for their EP A Dream About Love, kicking away any notion of genre in favour of creating graceful, dreamy sounds that are content to amble in whatever direction they wanted, just for the joy of the journey. Its follow-up maintains the ethereal floatiness of its companion record, but ventures closer to the realms of alt.pop, moodier in some ways, sunnier in others, but consistently more daring. Mostly, it works.
A Dream About Death is a curious listen – it is, at once, simple and complex, dense yet penetrable. Curritiba initially assumes the identity of an elegant, contemplative ballad but sheds its disguise as the distant echo of thumping drums and twinkling synths come in, yet maintains its pace and moods without it feeling jarring. Later, Discount On Psychic Readings has the low flicks of electric guitar strings rubbing up against a dreamy, melodic chorus without any friction whatsoever in a way that feels comfortable yet still unpredictable. There’s something thoughtful about Circa’s experimentation, though it never feels pretentious, but it really takes off when it aims highest. Closing track Buzzhenge is the finest point, blossoming in its back half into a soaring and subtly cinematic climax that sounds nothing if not sublime.