If Shadowgraph didn't have to compete with two other albums for my undying affection, it'd certainly rank first of my favorite pop records this year. In fact, 'Walk for Days', 'Fives and Tens', and 'Curses' are so infectious, they could take down some of the better songs in the other not-mentioned albums. I'll go ahead and name Circles The Best Chicago/Wisconsin band of 2014. I'm elated that Circles exist 'cause I'm gonna need them in the event that Soft Pack breaks-up.
Circles definitely know their way around a tune. Having five members in a band should guarantee maximum sonic impact and Circles don't allow anyone to waste space. 'Ghost Walking' alone employs a reed instrument and piano. Most songs feature vocal harmony by, what sounds to be, at least three (two of whom are women) band members. The bass anchors and propels most of Shadowgraph's tracks, bouncing around mid-tempo range.
Circles' lead guy is Black. He uses Shadowgraph as an opportunity to share his African-American heritage by name-checking Marcus Garvey and having someone read an excerpt from Leroi Jones's 'Black Music' aloud over an organ-based ditty (a-la VU's 'The Gift'). This element of pride and social history is a welcome layer added to an already stacked album, which also includes, lastly, a cover of Toy Love's 'Photographs of Naked Ladies'.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans