Sound: Signing to a major label raised expectations, produced doubters and most of all, provoked Circa Survive to find themselves, their heart and their voice. The second EP from the Philadelphia experimental group reassures they've done just that. Appendage looks like a typical extended play with b-side recordings from the group's Blue Sky Noise sessions, but it speaks in a tongue similar to an album. The five tracks cut from the band's time in Toronto, Canada exemplify the transformation that took place between On Letting Go and the third studio release.
"Sleep Underground" fights off a demo-ish feeling with a haunting melody one would expect to be torn from Juturna, with vocalist Anthony Green's kindhearted wail becoming tangled with bewitching guitars. Such an example of seduction continues on in "Stare Like You'll Stay", a number more joyous than the material found on Circa Survive's 2010 release. Though the uplifting nature is puzzling for a second, the steady rhythm section shades the chemistry that defines the band as each member accents the other's work, creating an ideal balance between teamwork and solo contributions. The recreation of "Everyway" proves that point as well, taking the acoustic clip into studio and watching it unfold into a composition that weighs the right amount of abstract noise and vocal explosion, complimenting the group's five-year trademark sound. // 9
Lyrics: Every word Anthony Green utters stems from his creativity and his feelings, some of which believe should be constantly explained so listeners can associate with him on a personal level. The trials and tribulations that helped manufacture Blue Sky Noise still exist in the lyrical work that construct Appendage, adding a bit more mystery and a tiny drop of sadness for those who know of Green's adventure with life the past few years. On "Backmask", the vocalist couldn't project more honesty in his voice through soft tones and a repeated hook. "Don't know why so much confusion needs to be obsessed about / Under the mountains, the seed's depression, watch it disappear," sings Green before gliding into a bit reminscent of On Letting Go.
Even "Lazarus" and it's timid characteristics push Green and the group further into the mainstream realm. "When I'm alone, I make believe that I'm in a different time and place where nobody wants to know my name," whimpers the 28-year-old, clashing his most intimate feelings with a radio-ready chorus you'd rarely expect from Circa Survive. That is until guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom unfold with the singer joining in to paint a theatrical minute-and-a-half long ending. // 9
Overall Impression: Loyal followers will agree, Appendage should have pushed the thirty minute mark. Extended plays come with certain restrictions (depending on the artist) but this release should have included more material, even though four out of the five tracks push over four minutes. Length is a flaw, but the b-sides flourish at pleasing; the melodies don't stray too far from the creator's tastes and Anthony Green's voice still captivates at a soft tone, not mimicking more energetic tracks ("Get Out", "Imaginary Enemy"). Appendage may be a limb from Blue Sky Noise's soul, but in reality, it should have been a part of it all along as it displays the talent behind an emerging band with a voice that's need to be heard, felt and experienced. // 8
- Joshua Khan (c) 2010