Circa Waves is breaking down what is left of genre barriers with their fourth studio album, Sad Happy, due out March 13, 2020 via Prolifica Inc/[PIAS]. Bright happiness, bittersweet nostalgia, goosebump-inducing sadness; the Liverpool four-piece deliver it all in 14 tracks. Buckle up, get ready to dance and maybe grab some tissues.
There are some tracks that are just made to be album openers and “Jacqueline” is one of those tracks, without a doubt. It starts with a softer guitar line that immediately opens up to a song that begs to be turned all the way up on the speakers. With hopeful lyrics and a sound that is comparable to The Bleachers or Walk The Moon, I want to do nothing less than sing this song at the top of my lungs. “Be Your Drug” picks up right where the first track left off. It starts with quiet, opening bars and builds steadily until finally reaching a peak during the second chorus.
I’ve been listening to “Move to San Francisco” almost daily since I first heard it, latching onto melancholy lyrics paired with a bright, upbeat sound and an addictive bass line. This track offers listeners that first taste of emotional dissonance that Sad Happy is about and does it in a way that will have you humming for days. If you’re still doubting Circa Waves’ talent, leave that here. The band shot, directed and edited the music video for this track themselves. “Wasted On You” follows with a driving drum beat and a catchy chorus. If you can make it through this song without at least attempting to hum along, let me know; I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.
“The Things We Knew Last Night” is a far cry from the first four tracks on Sad Happy. It’s the first acoustic song on the album featuring a soft guitar paired with heartfelt, bittersweet lyrics. The song sounds like warm summer nights when you were younger, and if you don’t know what that means, just give it a listen. The next track, “Call Your Name,” brings back the solid bass line and fast guitar found in earlier tracks. This song features lyrics that would sound right at home in a pop punk song but is presented in a way that makes growing up seem not so scary. This is, without a doubt, my favorite song on Sad Happy.
“Love You More” is maybe one of the sweetest ballads I’ve ever heard. The style of the guitar mixes with the strings to create an almost Mediterranean-sounding song. I’m no dancer, but I’d happily slow-dance to this song with my favorite person. The title track, “Sad Happy,” takes the listener in yet another different direction. This is easily the most indie pop song on the record. There’s an absence of the electric guitar, but I’m not missing it.
I hate the word “groovy,” but that’s the only way to describe this next track. “Wake Up Call” is such a fun song and stands as a mix between the indie pop and rock that has been prevalent so far in the album. “Sympathy” will stop listeners in their tracks, going from the upbeat sounds of the previous song to this soft ballad. The lyrics are goosebump-worthy, and I can practically see the crowd full of lighters swaying back and forth.
Circa Waves bring the listener back up to speed with the funky guitar and bass lines of “Battered Bruised.” I can’t whistle, but if I could, I’d be whistling along to this one. “Hope There Is A Heaven” seems to be the poster child of what Sad Happy is all about. On first listen, the song sounds like a fun and upbeat track- upon a closer listen, the heartbreaking lyrics shine through and really make it hard to tell what emotion you should be feeling most.
‘Train to Lime Street” acts as a late-stage interlude. It’s not at all what I was expecting, but I kind of loved it. I’ll let you be surprised- just go and give it a listen. Circa Waves closes out their album with “Birthday Cake,” and what a closing track it is. Much like the opening track, I want to sing this song at the top of my lungs but for an entirely different reason than I do for “Jacqueline.” Another bittersweet song, there is no better way to close out this album.
It’s hard for an album to take its listeners through such an emotional journey, but Circa Waves does it with ease. From the hopeful, happy tracks like “Jacqueline” to the tearjerkers like “Sympathy,” there’s a little something for everyone on Sad Happy. Regardless of what genre you’re a fan of, do yourself a favor and give this record a spin.