Circus of Death - Life of the Party

Stephen Bray 00/00/0000

Rating: 3/5

I saw Circus of Death play for Beat Promotions at Manchester's Dry Bar a few months back. They were pretty good in an early Cure/Depeche Mode way, so I asked for their demo, and I've finally gotten around to reviewing it.

In true 80s new-wave-gothy style, the A-Side takes almost a full minute to kick in with the vocals. The music works well enough, but there's a real jarring between the two vocalists' styles. One of them tackles the verse, which doesn't really work well at all as he launches into squeaks and octave changes that, whilst they might well work for someone like Darren Hayman, don't really fit here. The chorus is good though, for the 'other' singer gets to have a go. His voice is hardly distinctive, but very evocative of the era that the band clearly treasure. On the middle eight, the two singers duet to better effect on what is, to be fair, a pleasing track. It's well produced, well written and well structured, but unfortunately it does lack that special something that would really make it catch fire.

'Stop Start Again' is every inch a B-Side. Indistinct vocals and more concentration on instrumentation show that Circus of Death have totally mastered the concept of the genre that they revel in, when A-Sides stood out and B-Sides were afterthoughts. Having said that, it's still a good little tune and adds further to my appreciation of this band. They have a good sound that's pretty distinctive in today's post-Libertines society, and for that we should be glad. In the hands of the right manager and record label, they could even conceivably do well with this sound. Third track, 'Happy Ever After' is another obvious B-Side, but again adds further to their cache of good, listenable sounds. It's derivative certainly, but that doesn't stop this whole package from being a collection of good, solid tunes played by a band with conviction that what they're doing is worthwhile. I wish them success.