Circa Waves’ ‘Young Chasers’ is the uplifting and melancholic soundtrack to our youth
We’re flying through our best years
Music exists to evoke emotions in us, it's a plain and simple fact. Some songs trigger secondhand sadness, reminding you of the breakup they consoled you through in your teenage years. Perhaps something by Ben Howard?
Some make you want to grab your friends, who are likewise wearing checked shirts open with a t-shirt underneath, and huddle, chanting the lyrics to 'Mr. Brightside' like it's your first indie disco experience all over again. Others make you want to rip your ears clean off of the side of your now embarrassed face and make you wonder how you ever enjoyed listening to them, guilty pleasure or not. That's right, I'm looking at you 'That's Not Me/Intoxicated' remix, with whom we have all had a complicated past relationship.
Honourable mentions in the 'Just Plain Nostalgic' category include My Chemical Romance's 'Welcome to the Black Parade', literally anything by Busted, 'Airplanes' by B.o.B and Hayley Williams, and pretty much all of the Now! albums between 60 and 70 (they're on 101 now. One hundred and one. How did this happen? Are people still buying these things? Is the slightly more alternative stuff still shoehorned to the ends of discs one and two? 101. Jesus Christ. Kill me now my youth is over).
Music can also soundtrack periods in your life that are happening now. It can provide validation, clarification, a sense that you aren't alone in the world, that there is someone else out there that feels the same as you do. And this is it, the segue into the main topic of the article – Hi, my name is Dan Burns and I'm here to talk to you about Circa Waves' debut album.
The Liverpool band's first full length effort, Young Chasers, was released in March 2015 to relative commercial and critical success. The Guardian commended their "sturdy songcraft and youthful exuberance" and referring to the album as "the sound of being 17", and NME wrote that "Circa Waves are a blast". It was a solid foundation the perfect platform for a new band to grow from in future.
The album itself is a wistful and shameless throwback to indie of the early noughties, often confined to The Inbetweeners soundtrack and the indie rooms in dirty student clubs across the UK. The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, The Kooks, and The Libertines all spring to mind upon first listen, and the image – four lads, two guitars, shaggy haircuts, skinny jeans, and Converse – is no different. Remember that era? Zip through hoodies were so cool then, weren't they? What a time to be alive.
But beneath the surface, the album exists as more than just a retro indie fetishist dream, it's actually the perfect soundtrack to being on the cusp of adulthood.
Think about it. At this time in our lives, just entering our twenties, zipping through university faster than you can say "graduate job market", possibly even leaving university, starting to notice that hangovers last just a little bit longer than they did in freshers week – it's a mid-youth crisis. Our teenage years are over, we're entering the adult world, but let's be honest, none of us are actually ready to enter the adult world, so we're just sort of stuck in limbo, kind of young, but a little to old to be doing the things we used to do a couple of years ago.
Alas! Here comes Circa Waves' Young Chasers to further emphasise that melancholy.
The music is obviously part of the package. The breezy, jangling guitars and metronome drumbeat serve as a throwback to the era of Julian Casablancas and The Ting Tings, the indie dream of our youth. The lyrics, however, are where the relatable shit is going down.
On 'Best Years', lead singer Kieran Shudall sings "We are flying through our best years/and I'm not quite myself/please take me out tonight/and lie with me tonight". It's true that it feels like time is flying, perhaps because we're having fun, but it can feel like life is passing us by at a speed quicker than we would like.
Living in the moment can be hard, especially when you're worrying about the future. Sometimes it is just a case of someone grabbing you and taking you out, to forget about life as it whisks us up. On the same song, the lyric "I'm a twenty-something trying not to care" speaks for itself, alluding to the end of youth and the bittersweet feeling of pretending not to care about the future. I mean, I deeply care. Why do you think I'm writing 1,259 words on the end of my youth? I need validation people.
The lyrics "I'm a little too young with not enough time", from 'Stuck in My Teeth', and "So I was young for only a heartbeat", from 'Young Chasers', are again straightforward nods to the feeling of time passing us by as we skip through our youths, but for those of us who are going through that right now, it's all the more relatable.
It can often feel like we don't have enough time to do the things we want, to get what we want out of life. How are we meant to travel whilst simultaneously saving money? How are we supposed to 'live while we're young' (One Direction there) when we have essays to write and jobs to go to? How can we live in the moment when everything we do in the present is somehow intrinsically linked to our futures and success in later life?
And what happens when our youth comes to an end entirely? Are we judged on how well we lived our formative years? Or are we doomed to spend the rest of our lives regretting and telling ourselves we wished we'd done things differently? This unwillingness for youth to end is apparent when, on the song 'Get Away', Shuddall sings "I couldn't get away if I wanted to/my hands are tied, tied to you". We will always cling to our youth, that's why the mid-life crisis exists (my Dad bought a leather stetson. Not even joking).
On the most nostalgic and possibly most famous of Circa Waves' songs is 'T-Shirt Weather', with lyrics "I remember T-shirt weather/I remember some days we were singing our lungs out in the backseat together/And the seatbelts were burning our fingers in the T-shirt weather/I remember sleeping till the early afternoon" unashamedly reminiscing on times gone by when life seemed simpler.
Perhaps we'll always be destined to look back on our recent past and wish we could go back. At 18 and heading to uni, we wish we could go back to our early teens when school didn't matter and getting on MSN as quick as possible after school was all that mattered. When we're leaving uni, we'll miss our first year days and wish we could go back to a time when missing lecturers to go to the same club night for the eighth week in a row didn't matter.
This idea is probably best summed up by 'Fossils', where we're told "I never lose my sight/the circumstances change I'll find another place to hide". Life will always change and we'll always miss times gone by, it's just about finding somewhere new to hide from life and get on with trying not to worry about the future.
But maybe that's easier said than done. Either way, Circa Waves' Young Chasers serves well as an uplifting, if not deeply saddening, soundtrack to youth and growing up, in particular to those of us who lived through the noughties and only had Skins to relate to. Best of luck for the future, everyone.