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WPGM Recommends: Circa Waves – Young Chasers (Album Review)

circa waves young chasers
There is nothing groundbreaking about Young Chasers, the debut album from Liverpool four-piece Circa Waves. This is not a record that pushes any sonic boundaries, nor does it challenge the listener with any experimental or especially poignant lyricism. Critics who have strived to compare the band to a watered-down version of The Strokes are sadly misguided. But to judge it by these parameters is to miss the point entirely, for Young Chasers is not a record that tries to push the boat out in any way. This is an album that is tailor-made for an after GCSE summer. It belongs in the CD-player of your mate’s car as you drive down to the seaside to celebrate him passing his driving test. It is thirty-nine minutes of pure indie-pop exuberance.

Incredibly, for a record that relies on such a tried-and-tested formula of Wombats-esque guitars and Razorlight-esque melodies, this feels like something of a throwback. Young Chasers is an album that starts, middles out and finishes at a furious pace. Aside from on the more laid-back “Deserve This“, where Circa Waves do their best Real Estate impression, the album is all rise, ending at the same frenetic pace as it begins. This is an impressive achievement, as many debut albums have a tendency to peter out as they round the bend into the final straight (Catfish and the Bottlemen’s The Balcony springs to mind).

Ten years ago, Young Chasers would have fit seamlessly into the indie-pop trail that was being blazed by scores of bands in a post-Is This It? era. However now, this record feels like a bit of an anomaly. Only a few years ago, we had a wealth of indie-pop bands all vying for supremacy. But The Kooks have fallen by the wayside; The Libertines’ destiny seems tied to Pete Doherty’s health; and The Fratellis have had to resort to playing Cambridge May Balls to hundreds of drunken students, who have only turned up to bop along to “Chelsea Dagger”.

The imprint of these bands is all over Young Chasers. Its lead single, “T-Shirt Weather“, is tailor-made for the NME Stage at Reading & Leeds Festival. It is an infectious foot-tapper, and a highlight of the album. Album opener “Get Away” is similarly strong, with lead-singer Kieran Shudall sounding close to a Scouse Jake Bugg as he laments, “I couldn’t get away if I wanted to”. The album’s title track is also excellent, displaying urgency in its introduction that is sadly missing elsewhere on the album where all too frequently songs meander into their main riffs.

This brings us to one of the major flaws with this album. It is relentlessly one-paced. Fair play to Circa Waves, they’ve found a formula that will undoubtedly sell records. Nonetheless, there are only so many 3-minute guitar-pop songs one can take over the course of a thirteen-track album. Additionally, Shudall’s lyricism is far from refined; couplets like “please take me out tonight / and lie with me tonight” (“Best Years“) are clunky and convoluted. The album’s themes are joyfully, yet restrictedly, adolescent: Young Chasers is firmly rooted in ideas about sun, seaside, girls and growing up. It lacks the punch and variation of other debut albums within the genre, such as Swim Deep’s brilliant Where The Heaven Are We or The Vaccines’ What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?.

Circa Waves may well spark a renaissance in British indie-pop. For a debut record, this is a commendable achievement. Several tracks on this album will prove to be summer earworms, and for a band that has only been together since 2013, the style, sound and direction of the group is remarkably watertight. It would be easy to sit here and criticize this album for its lack of musical diversity. But the fact remains that this is an album that could do wonders for a genre that was once a stalwart of the British music industry, and has recently fallen victim to the overpowering beat of EDM and the rosy-cheeked monotony of Ed Sheeran. It is an exemplar of effervescent and breezy guitar music, which rarely puts a foot wrong even if it does not put too many right. Above all else Young Chasers is a fun record, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Circa Waves’ Young Chasers is out now via Virgin EMI Records, purchase it here.

Words by Henry Goodwin

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