Review: Full Circle

Shanghai-based Round Eye experiment with old and new... and sax

They say good things come in pairs, and Genjing Records’s newest release, a split 12’ between two very different punk acts, holds true. It’s a wild ride through well-aged old-school territory and a wacky assemblage of elements that bends protocol without losing edge. Even if a sax made the record less legit, there’s Black Flag’s own Greg Ginn on one of the tracks. What?

Full Circle is the first album from Shanghai-based punk outfit Round Eye, shared with front-man Chachy’s old band back in the States, Libyan Hit Squad, on side A. The latter group’s disbandment in 2011 left some unfinished business in the shape of songs that ended up on Round Eye’s catalogue instead, with the record taking three years to complete across New Mexico, Florida and Shanghai.

Listen Libyan Hit Squad - Full Circle 

Despite the fluidity in the process, there’s no mistaking the line separating the first six tracks from the remaining five. LHS’s side A opens with ‘Blown Asshole’, a fast-paced angry intro to familiar fist-raising territory (‘Rubber Shoes’), segueing onto the elaborate and disconcerting instrumental ‘Full Circle’ featuring aforementioned Mr Ginn on mean solo guitar. ‘Brave New World’, ‘Faulty Bridge’ and ‘Lift your Knees’ aren’t as intricate as their climactic precursor, but still pack surprising versatility. 

On the other side (literally), Round Eye’s same-titled party starter gives way to the maddest sax ever, which alternately stands out and then blends in with other elements at will. It meshes especially well with the mean bass line on ‘Kenting’, a sugary anthem that gets you ready for the doo-wop-inspired suaveness of ‘I’m So Young’. Then comes the clap-infused roller-coaster ride that is ‘Carne Seca’, and ‘Got Her Runnin’’, the track that toys with carefree pop-punk the most.

Listen Round Eye - Got Her Runnin' 

All-around, the result is unpretentious and fun without goofing off too much; there’s attention to detail and it’s clear a lot of hard work went into making everything come together. Especially the sax. We can’t let go of the sax. 

Full Circle proves that punk is just an attitude that follows no rules.

  • 4 out of 5 stars