Circular Sounds

  • Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Feb 5, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Circular Sounds is altogether smoother than the musician's previous work, but it's far from slick, packed with enough grit (note the slightly off-key horns in 'Everything Begins') and solid songcraft to set itself apart from the retro-rock catalog.
  2. Stoltz knows that sometimes the best way through anything, from hangovers to hopelessness, requires just good pop, a steady beat and the sound that everything’s okay. That’s what he does very well.
  3. Circular Sounds can feel impersonal, especially in how Stoltz hopscotches from voice to voice, some far stronger than others.
  4. 80
    Circular Sounds is a collection of snappy, mildly psychedelic, instantly memorable songs, delivered with an unfussy and becoming modesty.
  5. Q Magazine
    He remains a little too in thrall to these heavy influences, despite fashioning an album of melodious songs that deserve a wider audience. [Mar 2008, p.115]
  6. Mojo
    In short, genial, infectious guitar pop like they used to make. [Feb 2008, p.102]
  7. Sure, it might be nice if Stoltz could innovate more with his influences, like the Pet Sounds impressionism of Panda Bear's Person Pitch. But flashbacks this vivid are good enough for now.
  8. While Circular Sounds isn’t quite the modern sound of the American west coast, it feels very much like the classic sound of California: a sound left blissfully alone by the stresses and rigours of a modernity forever on the move.
  9. Under The Radar
    Another intimate, handcrafted gift from a criminally unknown--in his own country, anyway--artist. [Winter 2008, p.84]
  10. In this bruised, romantic world, waking up with hangovers and noticing the empty side of the bed is the norm; for people experiencing or remembering similar situations, this is a nice aural comforter.
  11. From beginning to end Circular Sounds feels familiar. And with only one track (just) over four minutes, Stoltz holds true to pop convention in length as well as arrangements.
  12. Circular Sounds is brimming with unidentifiable gasps and skronks, and while it occasionally seems like Stoltz, a longtime advocate of home recording, spends a little too much time knee-deep in obscure noisemakers, his scrappiest tracks are also his best.
  13. Except for the admittedly awesome surf-rock instrumental 'Reflecting,' there’s nothing done on Circular Sounds that you can’t find done better on old vinyl, battered mixtapes, and (shudder) Counting Crows albums.
  14. Circular Sounds takes the craft aspect to a higher level. Stoltz’s early records were scrappy, guitar-centric home recordings, and his previous LP, Below the Branches, was a piano-dominated, primary colors affair, but this one is a study in how to blend signifiers and sonorities so that they enhance each other.
  15. It's very catchy, but the center doesn't hold.

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