“Circles Around The Sun” is Dispatch’s first full-length album since “Silent Steeples” in 2004. After the Boston trio’s 12-year hiatus, we got a lovely little taste of what was to come with the release of their EP, which included “Con Man” and “Broken American.” Listening to the six perfectly-produced tracks put fans’ minds at ease that this comeback would not be in vain.
So when Dispatch announced “Circles,” something of a masterpiece was to be expected. Prior to the album being released in full on Rolling Stone, “Not Messin’,’” “Josaphine” and the title track, “Circles Around the Sun,” were out for all to hear.
The mainstream-ready songs were moderately disheartening on the first and even second listen. They still have the familiar Dispatch feel, but are so differently produced from what fans are used to. It’s by no means bad, just different, which is why the album will continue to grow on loyal fans and might woo some new ones.
The title track, “Circles Around The Sun,” sounds very much like something that would come from Chadwick Stoke’s band, State Radio, with its upbeat jam/country roots and message for a cause. The song, and by extension the album itself, is an ode to the band’s friend, Larry Perry, who was disabled and was unwillingly sent into space by NASA in the ‘60s in an experimental flight.
“Not Messin’” was the first song that the band played for an audience. It sets itself apart from the rest of the album as Chad raps about the questionable values being preached about monetary and material values.
The third track, “Get Ready Boy” is also reminiscent of State Radio, but the harmonies assure you that only Dispatch could pull this off. “Flag” immediately stands out with unique instrumentals, which are the band’s attempt to set a haunting landscape for the telling of a Native American story.
After being pleased with “Circles” for the most part, “Come to Me” is painful to say the least. It’s Pete Heimbold’s attempt to change his style to fit his vocal needs, but definitely falls flat.
“We Hold a Gun” is about the education crisis in America, a cause that the band is very passionate about (check out their organization, Amplifying Education) from the perspective of their friends who are teachers. Braddigan wrote this song and has never strayed from his distinct style.
Overall, “Circles Around The Sun” is an album you do not want to miss. Some bands try to pull off a comeback solely for profit, but with their album being released for free and on iTunes for $6.99 (with $1 going to charity). Dispatch didn’t return for profit. The band is out to prove that they’ve still got it and will always stay true to themselves and their fans with every song filled with inspiration and meaning. Their pleas for social justice and togetherness, accompanied by impeccable harmonies and a new rock edge, create a style all their own that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.