Circles, a melodic hardcore punk band from Nantes, France previously featured on No Echo back in 2019, is on the cusp of releasing their sophomore LP, entitled Still. The record showcases 12 tracks of pure euphonious bliss ideal for those who yearn for the Revolution Summer sound.
The record is a collaborative release between Southern California’s Extinction Burst and Shield Recordings out of the Netherlands. Although we are very early into 2024, this record is already shaping up to be one of the year’s most promising.
Beginning with the anthemic cut "Split," the record heads off into a fast direction while tackling the topic of toxic masculinity. Track 2, "Giants," advances Still into a layered direction with the distinct instrumentation of acoustic guitars and tambourine, with a vocal approach akin to Pat Dubar (Uniform Choice, Unity) on "Blood Days." "Bloom" plants the album firmly in the realm of hardcore punk by being the first hard-hitting political anthem of the record. This song is sure to raise fists in the air.
The next two tracks bring serious MacKaye vibes with Still landing in Fugazi territory and "Voyage" honoring the traditions of Minor Threat before slowing down to a distinct alt.rock crawl with "Solaris." Perhaps the most emotive of all of the tracks on Still, it’s an instrumental that proves that words are not needed to elicit a strong introspective response.
"Sunglasses" brings the album back to life with an urgent Uniform Choice Screaming for Change sensibility. A song of pure resistance with lines such as “And we still can walk paths out of their maps / Put on our sunglasses and never come back / Learning to see what’s behind our eyes / And stop eating from their trash can” immediately conjures visuals of John Carpenter’s They Live and is a call to look beyond the distractions of society and tap into reality.
Completing the full Uniform Choice experience, the song crescendos into an acoustic guitar buildup reminiscent of moods found on Starting at the Sun. What a unique blend of creativity merging two very different eras of an iconic band!
The record reaches its pinnacle on the track "Changes" with a very modern feel with strong guitar leads and wah pedal tones and yet again features instrumentation not often found in hardcore, this time in the form of a melodica. This is the point of the record where the record truly comes alive. Followed by the Dag Nasty-esque "Lungs," Circles gives you more of what you crave with another fast one to propel the record on to the final cluster of tracks.
"Waves" explores indie rock musically and uncertainty lyrically. Revelation achieves melodic hardcore perfection with the right blend of speedy drums and guitars deep in the tone zone. This is another stand out track for traditional hardcore fans who are aching for another two-step part before the closer, "Escapism." Still ends triumphantly with the perfectly paced track that features building dynamics and a drum and bass break to cue the album’s end.
This record features so many great things about melodic hardcore, does a great job at keeping things interesting, and really has something for everyone to appreciate no matter where you fall on the spectrum of hardcore or punk fandom. Still has all of the ear markings of a new classic.
Buy merch from Circles on Bandcamp.