Circa Survive explores a whole new realm of sonic rock on its sophomore saga, On Letting Go. The Philadelphia-based quintet (whose members have done time in screamo bands Saosin and This Day Forward) has a lot in common with brainy, new-school prog-rockers like Coheed & Cambria. From the symphonic speed emo of "In the Morning and Amazing . . ." to the progressive pop of "Kicking Your Crosses Down," Circa Survive polishes its post-hardcore past with muscular modern-day arena rock. And here's the best part: The five guys actually live together. That close connection carries over to On Letting Go's tight, groove-based songs.
But whether you actually enjoy the band's taut brand of space screamo depends on whether you can tolerate singer Anthony Green's, um, distinctive soprano, which falls somewhere between the Darkness' Justin Hawkins and a prepubescent Perry Farrell. Love them or loathe them, Green's girlie shrieks prepare you for tons of diva-like posturing onstage. (Also be ready to discern whether the dude's lyrics are brain-blowingly clever or merely self-indulgent.) When backed by effects-fueled guitar riffs and cascading drum crashes, however, Green's skyscraping shrieks elevate Circa Survive to thunderous, if occasionally preposterous, radio-rock status.