Small Circle - Cyclical
Review by Shannon Shumaker
“I beg your pardon have you heard that life is fleeting and a mess?” Cam Boucher sings only two songs into Small Circle’s debut album, successfully setting the tone for the eight perfectly imperfect songs that follow. The “supergroup,” made up of members of Sorority Noise and newcomer Marissa D’Elia, gets introspective on Cyclical, exploring trauma, depression, heartache and most importantly, getting better. Boucher’s blunt and expressive vocals sit perfectly alongside D’Elia’s own sweet voice, creating the perfect blend of sound to tell these stories.
“We Belong Here” opens the album with a warm, hazy and laid back vibe, but it isn’t until the second song, “Vague Consensus” that Small Circle really begin to bloom. While it might be a little difficult to grasp what they’re all about from the first track, the second song will leave no questioning. And although Boucher’s voice is unmistakable, this song and the ones that follow never sound like a Sorority Noise side project. Instead, D’Elia’s life experiences and her own sweet, dreamy vocals carry the album forward. While Boucher takes the lead on “Vague Consensus,” D’Elia spearheads the hopeful “Spinning” as she insists, “I’ll be just fine” over and over against crescendoing guitars.
Admittedly a newcomer to music (and counting Small Circle as her first band ever) D’Elia’s inexperience is actually a breath of fresh air. Alongside warm, refined guitar work, she struggles to find herself, but certainly not in a bad way. Instead, it makes for a very relatable narrator alongside Boucher’s already comforting vocals. These songs are endearing and imperfect, and at times, it feels as if you’re sitting in the band’s practice space as they jam, especially in the quieter track, “Mornings” or the slightly frantic, “Ritual.” One of the most energetic songs on the album, “Ritual” also comes with quite a bit of emotion and pain, and the contrast is incredible.
A few songs later is the stunning “Futile.” Although it feels as if it comes and goes quickly, this song is definitely one of the strongest on the album, with the instruments hosting just as much emotion as the vocals. The way the guitar work builds then recedes is amazing. Following is “Cooler Mood” which feels unconventional musically while lyrically, it’s rather introspective in lines such as, “I know it’s not the end of me/And I know it’s just the beginning.”
After Cyclical comes to an end, I strongly urge you to give it another listen. Then another. Every time you hear these ten songs, you’re bound for find something new, whether it’s the intricate, beautiful guitar work that you might have missed when you were focusing on the lyrics, or maybe it’s a poetic line that really resonates with you. Cyclical is an incredibly raw, emotional release, and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
LISTEN TO: "Vague Consensus" or "Futile"
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