Sometimes you don’t need hyperbole or over-analysis to sum up an album.  This new album from Seth Swirsky, a 30-plus year veteran of MANY elements in the music industry, Circles And Squares can be summed up in one word: exquisite.  It’s that simple – considering the music is so detailed, intricate and complex.  Imagine all the best elements of what you love in pop:  Brian Wilson during that period from Pet Sounds to Sunflower; The Beatles from Rubber Soul and Revolver and most of Todd Rundgren from Something/Anything to Hermit Of Mink Hollow, plus everything by Emmit Rhodes for good measure.  I know that’s one hell of a build-up and you’re probably thinking “no way, no how”.  Well, it fucking is.

Just from the first piano bars of “Shine”, with the most perfect sound and arrangement – you know where it’s going and it’s only going to be more glorious; the title track is this wonderful, slightly quirky meld of Beatles and Beach Boys and the playing through the different movements of the song is beyond description – and it has to be noted that Mr. Swirsky played all the parts himself (save for one bass part and one horn part!) – if this is his McCartney, then roll on!  “Old Letter” is buoyant with its acoustic guitars – say Hollies meets Raspberries and layered tuanwhich makes the singing even warmer and personal and “Let’s Get Married” is one of the most charming pieces on the album with its quiet understatement and deft 12-string Ric riffage and orchestral arrangement on the instrumental break.  “Trying To Keep It Simple” is (in my mind) that kind of rhythm you found in the ’60’s with the diminished and open chords of the ’70’s – his mastery of song structuring is astounding; “Sonic Ferris Wheel” reminds me of XTC – not surprisingly, the arrangement and wry lyrical content reeks of Andy Partridge (and that’s said with great admiration); “Table” is the highlight of side two (even though this is a CD – work with me) – opening with a shimmering 12-string Ric and kicking it with a classic acoustic rhythm and worthy of Top Ten status if singles were still the order of the day and “Abyss” is sad, quiet and has a Zombies-like feel, tempered by a cello.  Heady, heady stuff.

I’ve been very fortunate in that I manage to hear/find so much incredible music to try and turn others on to after being turned on myself.  But this one – this one is an absolute necessity.  And there’s no point in my attempting to paint fancy word pictures about it.  One listen will tell you all you need to know.  Sixteen tracks and something familiar, beloved and yet different in each one, which makes it even more special.


Circles And Squares is available now

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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