Circulatory (For Your) System

Image from teamclermont.com

Image from teamclermont.com

Circulatory System. Image from pitchfork.com

Circulatory System. Image from pitchfork.com

When it comes to psych-rock, Circulatory System has made a name as both a strong studio band as well as a stellar live group. Signal Morning, the band’s first album release in eight years, shows that front man Will Cullen Hart has kept his ear to the ground and artistic vision on the prize.

Although the album has been met with enthusiastic reviews from Pitchfork, All Music, and Spin, a release like Signal Morning is difficult to explain in words. But we’ll try.

“Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant” is just as abstract as its title suggests. The tune opens the album with a bang, featuring heavy drums from the get-go, but soon slips into the chaotic, if only for a few seconds at a time. Just when you think the track has lost rhythm, it’s brought back to life by the drum line. This piece is mostly instrumental, and with the few lyrics slipping into the last 30 seconds of the song, it serves as more of a vignette of things to come rather than a standalone. And with 17 total tracks on Signal Morning, with a mere running time of 45 minutes, there is much to feast on in this action packed, double disc sound delight.

Switch over to “Overjoyed” next and you’ll get a better feel for the vibe that has made Circulatory System one to keep an ear out for. The tune is a far cry from Stevie Wonder: the string opening gives a haunting orchestral sentiment and then quickly jumps into a heavy, ominous, aggressive drone – in the best way possible. A distinct harmony throughout the song paves the way to lyrics like “Everyone is overjoyed / And everything that you say is magic”. The fact that the group can bring heart into such a heavy track shows their mastery of the genre.

“Round Again” reminds us that Circulatory System can play it cool; it’s low-key, paced, and vocally layered. Although it begins with something like 90s alternative rock, the spirited vocals make us think of Beck, or better yet, late McCartney. Distinct bass carries us through this track with – dare we say – grace, and the hopeful lyrics “Of course we’ll come ‘round / We’ll come back ‘round again” are enough to win us over.

In short, pick up this album.

-Cora Nijhawan

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