Juturna is 10 years old
01. Holding Somone’s Hair Back
02. Act Appalled
03. Wish Resign
04. The Glorious Nosebleed
05. In Fear And Faith
06. The Great Golden Baby
07. Stop The Fuckin’ Car
08. We’re All Thieves
09. Oh, Hello
10. Always Getting What You Want
11. Meet Me In Montauk (+ hidden track “House of Leaves”)
If there is one ever-present aspect of Philadelphian rock quintet Circa Survive‘s output over their decade or so of existence, it’s that they’ve always managed to strike a level of emotional resonance matched by few others in the genre; so much so that detractors sometimes write them off as sounding like an adolescent emo band – especially given the high register of vocalist Anthony Green -but to delve deeper into their sound, beyond the surface-level sonic qualities, reveals a wealth of talent; masterful songwriting, gorgeous tones and hard-hitting lyrics.
That they’d reach the towering podium on which they stand now, after the release of their fifth album Descensus at the close of last year, was predictable even in their earliest years. Following quickly after their debut EP The Inuit Sessions, their compelling debut LP Juturna followed only a couple of months later, and captured the imaginations of thousands right off the bat, even carrying the new band into the Billboard 200 – and more importantly has influenced a generation of underground rock and post-hardcore records.
Carrying over two songs – “Act Appalled” and the triumphant “The Great Golden Baby” – from their debut EP, Juturna rounds out its twelve tracks wearing its heart on its sleeve; it’s incredibly open with its influences, referencing 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind in several of the songs, including “Meet Me In Montauk“, the last thing the film’s character Joel remembers his former lover Clementine telling him as the rest of his memories of her are erased. “Oh, Hello” details a meeting between two people who seem to know each other but can’t remember meeting before – as Joel and Clementine do at the film’s beginning – and “In Fear and Faith” mirrors the pivotal scene in which Joel wanders his collapsing memories, talking to a projection of his former girlfriend. Even the title of “Wish Resign” is related – it comes from a line in the Alexander Pope poem Eloisa to Abelard; the line immediately following the one after the movie is named, in fact.
The album’s title references Juturna, the Roman goddess of fountains, wells and springs, and wife of Janus, the god of transition, renewal and of doors and portals. These things are referenced many times in the lyrics, and tie in strongly with the film’s themes.
But besides the heavy conceptual ties, Circa wrote (and continue to produce) such emotionally resonant music on this record that tugs at your heartstrings like few others can. “The Glorious Nosebleed” is a heady perspective piece from a woman who throws herself out of a burning building rather than die in the flames, and is but one example of Anthony Green’s ability to both write and perform vivid and emotional material.
Green is often considered the star of the show, but the other four members of Circa Survive are absolutely masterful musicians, and it shouldn’t be forgotten. Their methods are completely a-typical of most rock in that they rarely use riffs, and eschew regular song structure in favour of complex rhythmic percussion and layered, harmonic lead melodies, all heavily modified with effects pedals. This ‘dirtying’ of a normal guitar sound contrasts Green’s soaring, angelic vocals and creates a heady atmosphere that morphs throughout the album.
The whole band’s ability to write such distinctive and memorable songs is to their credit, and it’s in full swing even on this early record. Utilising more conventional rock fare, “Holding Someone’s Hair Back” features a simple chord progression opening, led by Steve Clifford’s fantastic drum lines. It’s that much more effective thanks to their restraint and dedication to crafting such diverse tracks later in the album.
This album is so incredibly important because of how strong a debut it was. You can hear all the hallmarks of their later work in formation, and although it’s not perfect, it’s still many fans’ favourite for its raw qualities. Give it a listen if you’ve never tried Circa Survive before, and if you have, well, how about another spin for old times’ sake?