September 21, 2018 Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus (Album Review)
Going strong for over a decade now, the Australian five-piece known as Dead Letter Circus are back with their latest album, released on Friday, September 21, 2018 via Rise Records. Coming a little over a year since their 2017 acoustic album, The Endless Mile, their brand new self-titled album is their first collection of new songs since 2015’s Aesthesis.
Made up of Vocalist Kim Benzie along with Bassist Stewart Hill, essentially since the start, Drummer Luke Williams as well as Guitarist Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer have been intricate parts of the project for some time. As mentioned, together for quite a while now, Dead Letter Circus has been a band that has worked hard to hone their own unique sound. Reflecting on their approach early on, in a 2014 interview with CrypticRock, Benzie stated, “We decided to focus on rhythms, and said, lets create a band that is really musically heavy, but jam packed full of melody with the guitar and vocals kind of doing a lead role in the band. We started writing with those guidelines and it came together.” Known for progressive tendencies, as heard on 2013’s The Catalyst Fire, a more Electronic Rock style, as heard on Aesthesis, what does the latest offering serve up to enthusiastic listeners?
With a savvy bass rift, opening the album, “The Armour You Own” comes in like a smooth pulse. Soon the melodic vocals of Benzie soon trickle as the song emerges into a delicate balance between Heavy Alternative and Indie Rock with a dash of melancholy. An interesting choice to open with, and perhaps setting the tone for the overall album, “The Real You” whispers into consciousness. Here, Benzie demands “Show me the real you” as the music decrescendos and then amps right back up into the chorus. A slight change of pace, it sheds the Heavy Alternative vibe, instead displaying a more Groovy Rock vibe reminiscent of U2.
Urgent and heartfelt, “Change” is almost the flip side of the patient pace that “The Real You” shows, building into an easy head bop tempo. With heavy focus on guitar lines and vocal, “Change” returns to the more Alternative sound while conjuring comparison to other known artists in the genre. Moving forward, “Running Out of Time” is introduced with a quiet drum beat from Williams, before ushering in Hill, Vincent, Palmer, and Benzie, for a full array of sound. A pretty simple message, it is exactly about what the title says, softly demands on the conscious, easily making it a song you could end up getting lost in a daydream with.
Always known for thoughtful concepts, “We Own the Light” is an introspective narrative piece – sleepy, yet hectic at the same time. A bit more demanding, “Heartline” is an instrumental arrangement and comes across as a call to arms in its insistence. Then “Ladders for Ladders” has a nostalgic hopeful sound while featuring Benzie’s more airy vocals. This is before “Trade Places,” which is a little more intricate with the music featuring more layers while “Say it Won’t be Long” is overall heavier and Benzie is vocally charged. Lastly, “Home” embraces the overall theme and sound of the album – somewhere between heavy and light Alternative Rock with a thought-provoking message.
Overall, Dead Letter Circus takes all components of the Alternative Rock world and blends them into the bands own sound. A sleepy, winter sound, there is a constant balance that borders heavy and light, making the album easy to fall into and listen to. Dead Letter Circus has a plan for their music, it is not Progressive Rock, it is not Electronic Rock, it is uniquely whatever they want it to be. An album with good arrangements and a steady pace that ties together nicely, CrypticRock gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.