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I Might Be Wrong – Circle the Yes


I Might Be Wrong
come from Berlin and are, apparently, “supported by the Initiative Musik Non-profit Project Company Ltd. with project funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media on the basis of a resolution passed by the German Bundestag.”

Splendid! – how can we resist an album boasting such venerable patronage? Naming your band after a song by your fave combo however, is rarely a good idea – Eric’s Trip, Ella Guru, Ladytron and many others appeared on the scene with so much baggage attached to their names that they stood little chance of ever establishing their own identity (somehow the Japanese seem able to transcend this rule – Ruins, Boris, etc.), but to name your band after a Radiohead (themselves named after a Talking Heads song) song is tantamount to shouting out to the world “We have no ideas, please ignore us!”

Fortunately, preconceptions are made to be broken, and Circle the Yes serves up a sequence of vibrant yet intricate songs bristling with chiming melodies, taut instrumentation and thoughtful imagery. Any slight Radiohead influence evident is countered by the complete absence of Thom Yorke (a virtue happily shared by most of the world’s groups). Instead, I Might Be Wrong boast the considerably richer talents of Lisa von Billerbeck who not only sings with “husky tongue, febrile head and shaken heart” (as the group’s website so accurately observes), but also pens a sharp lyric and provides the lovely sleeve artwork.

The album may be a semi-concept work inspired by fellow Berlin artist Charlotte Salomon (who died in Auschwitz in 1943) and her astonishing multimedia artwork Leben? oder Theater?, although this is not made explicit, except perhaps in the recent single “Salomon” and in occasional spoken sections that echo the archaic German singspiel style. Despite the weighty subject matter, Circle the Yes is an upbeat and joyous sounding pop record driven by a propulsive rhythm section, hypnotic circular guitar figures and bursts of abstract electronica, around which von Billerbeck intimately weaves her melodies in a voice pitched somewhere between Melanie and Cat Power.

At once both complex and catchy, the songs are constructed with a fine sense of dynamics – deftly rising, falling, accelerating and even switching time signatures without ever sacrificing pop hooks for prog showmanship (although “Novel Rave” is somehow strangely reminiscent of King Crimson circa Red). Everything is captured with a refreshingly crisp and spacious production, focusing the sense of forward momentum that characterises the album. Circle the Yes is a captivating and intelligent pop record of the kind British groups seem to have forgotten how to make – thankfully it seems that they still remember how to in Berlin.

I still think they should change their name though….

Read the group’s own wonderful description of the album here.

-Alan Holmes-

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