REVIEW: "lemonade," the collab from circa waves + alfie templeman, is as refreshing as its namesake
Two of the freshest minds in music right now have collaborated, and I don't know what I was doing expecting it to be anything but introspective and axel-tilting, yet here we are: "Lemonade" by Circa Waves (one of my favorite bands), featuring Alfie Templeman (one of the most talented teenagers on the planet, arguably). When I heard the title was "Lemonade," I assumed - and I feel rightfully so! - that this would be an upbeat, end of summer banger - maybe a nice replacement for the festival weekends we've all been mourning the past few months? No. That's not it at all.
"Lemonade" is soft, succulent commentary on the state of the world today. In general we're all so content - or maybe content is the wrong word, and what I'm looking for is complacent - with where we are, too afraid to push our own boundaries. We're too content with watching with envy as our peers, our friends, and our family pursue their dreams, while we put ourselves on the sidelines. In an interview with NME, Circa Waves frontman Kieran Shuddal said, “Most of the time when I write songs, I don’t know what they’re about for a long time, but with this song, I want everyone to feel like we’re all in the same position. The feeling of not quite knowing what’s going on, or where you want to be in life, is a universal thing. Even if there are people who seem like they’ve got it all figured out, that’s not true. Someone might look at Circa Waves and think, ‘I want to do that, and be in a band that tours and releases records’, but even we are sat here thinking, ‘What the fuck are we going to do after the next record?’ Nobody really has their shit together, and it’s quite a nice relief to actually say that, and admit that you’re not really sure.” Life is, generally, about finding who you are, and it's easy to admonish your own accomplishments or feel like you're not doing enough to fulfill that sense of individuality, that feeling that you're actually doing something meaningful - to you, to the world - with your life.
During this quarantine, however, there's been a sense of stagnancy against our own will. None of us have any choice but to be complacent - it's impossible to leave our houses for anything but the necessities, and it really put everyone at a standstill, especially anyone employed (or self-employed) in the arts. It was the first to shutter, it'll be the last to come back, and they have to watch as other industries slowly crank back to life.
We're being fed so much rhetoric about what we should be doing that we have no idea what we want to be doing - especially with all the toxic productivity nonsense we've been seeing the past five months. You don't have to write the next great novel during a global pandemic - you really just have to survive and do what you can to keep yourself from losing your mind. But there is also solidarity in everyone you know being in the same boat as you, as much as that boat is full of holes and leaking gas, with a cracked windscreen.
To completely derail myself before I fall into a tangent I can't claw myself out of - the bassline in Circa Waves songs has slowly come to be one of my favorite elements of them. Slow, and savory, and familiar throughout their recent discography, I always have to settle down with new Circa Waves and listen with the bass in mind before I can focus on anything else. The past year has been an insane one for this band - three full-lengths in less the twelve months! - but they're showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, and I'm loving it. They're on a kick and making some of the best music of their entire career.
And don't even get me started on Alfie Templeman - it still blows my mind that someone can be so young and seem to know so much about what it means to be alive. Or to know how to articulate how much they still have to learn so well. He started recording and releasing demos when he was only thirteen. It's no shock to me that he's already so prolific only four years later. On hearing "Lemonade" itself for the first time, Alfie said, “It’s one of these songs – and Radiohead do this so well, too – where you can’t quite tell if it’s sad or happy…I think they’re really good at that, and [Kieran] is great at hitting that spot in the middle, where it can go both ways. If you’re in a good mood, you can listen to it, but if you’re more upset and low, it works as well. It’s hitting all the spots.”
A collaboration of this magnitude has surely rocked the indie world. I won't recover from it for a while, at least. I'm grateful that there are bands making music this contemplative and thought-provoking. "Lemonade" is out in the world and can be streamed now on your preferred platform. Circa Waves are on Twitter and Instagram, and you can keep up with Alfie on his Twitter and Instagram, as well.