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The Middle is the debut studio release from Sydney band Circle, with all previous albums being bedroom recordings. Thankfully the band have lost none of their quirky, ear-catching sound palette in the process – rather, these elements just seem clearer and bolder than before. Gorgeous recalls early Radiohead decorated with harp flourishes, while I Believe sees bass, xylophone and trumpet combining with a catchy chorus to create something enjoyable and refreshing. The shared male/female vocal duties bring the work of Arcade Fire to mind, particularly on the new-wave-inspired Hold and Fashion Me a Drum. However, the sweet harmonies which these two singers create together, such as on the dazzling On My Heart, are utterly captivating and a real defining credit to the Circle sound. These also work as the common thread that ties the eclectic soundscape that is The Middle together – from the rave synths of Ready to Dance to the dry electronics of the title track and the washy ballad All the People. Some songs are more memorable than others and occasional comparisons to acts such as Belle and Sebastian are inevitable, but Circle have made the leap from bedroom to studio wonderfully, carrying across that wide-eyed ambition that only a young band with a million ideas can muster. *** ½