“This Circus is a Funeral” is a passionate, rousing and astonishingly focused album by The Meanwhile – a postmodern rock and emo 3-piece band from Springfield Mo, who take the approach that no sound is too big, too loud, too melodic, or too emotional to try, and they always pull off their grand ideas. Written to process divorce, family deaths, and the COVID pandemic, the album was recorded by Kevin W. Gates of Reach Audio. While pushing boundaries and challenging perceptions is a huge part of what this band is about, they also double down on radio-friendly craft and hone in on sharp, accessible hooks that appeal to broader audiences.
Writing an album like “This Circus is a Funeral”, is a time-consuming and emotionally taxing process that represents the importance of art, creativity and sticking to your own convictions. It encompasses all of the darkness and beauty humanity is capable of, to the point where you will not find many albums that can offer this kind of narrative with the same honesty and intensity found within its 10 tracks. The balance of driving rock rhythms and catchy soaring choruses is exceptionally pieced together.
Hearing the whole album from start to finish, paints a vibrant, elating, and at times affecting journey. Occasionally, their unbridled ambition pushes them to do things the rest of us will not immediately expect, and that is just the brilliance of The Meanwhile.
The power trio motored by bass, drums and guitar, open the album with the fire and fury of “Opposite of What We Were”. It finds the band at their most savage and scintillating, with razor-sharp riffs, crunchy bars and soaring choruses.
“Overrated” is more muted and syncopated, but maintains the same energy and explosive choruses as the opening track. On “Nervous”, and then “Dinner by Gaslight”, The Meanwhile instill their insatiably fetching and emotive work with enough inventive nuances and unpredictable dynamics to elevate it into the realm of sophisticated splendor. “Greenfield” showcases a remarkably graceful and charming sequence of verses, before it builds into another towering anthem with stunningly powerful vocals.
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is The Meanwhile’s own particular take on the super Cindi Lauper hit. They smartly stick to the original script, while infusing the song with more bite and crunch. The end result is an added intensity that takes it to the next level.
“Headstrong” and “Growing Old” find the lead vocals turned down to an almost conversational tone, giving you just enough respite before the bombastic choruses ignite the arrangements, creating an infectious sonic plasma that drips with scrumptious ear candy.
Crank your speakers to appreciate the deliciously gritty and wonderfully high-flying “Best Laid Plans”, where the solid guitar textures and soaring vocals drive the momentum alongside the drums.
The chugging jangle of “Beneath The Surface” closes the album in the best possible way, with an amazing string arrangement to add further dynamic weight to the proceedings. “This Circus is a Funeral” is an album that caters to both The Meanwhile’s heavier and more melodic sides. It deserves to be held in the highest regard.
“This Circus is a Funeral”, is an album that embraces everything right about the alternative rock genre. There is something about it that makes you listen twice throughout the record – from the tense atmospheres, to the driving rhythms, and the perfectly roaring vocals, The Meanwhile capture all that is impressive and compelling about their music within this album.