For Fans Of
Having formed in 2009 while the members were still but wee lads in high school, you can trace the process of Citizen’s growth both as a band and as people. Now, all but departed from their adolescent pop-punk foundations, the band has risen to the challenge of proving themselves as a new breed of alternative rock superpower. As the band now release their third LP, ‘As You Please‘, it’s interesting to reflect on their evolution over the past eight years.
Citizen garnered sweeping adoration in 2013 with their debut full-length ‘Youth’, an album that was applauded for its measured pacing and earnest sentiment. ‘Youth’ served as a launching pad for a more refined incarnation of Citizen; a band who seemed to want to be received in the same company as their more “mature” contemporaries, whilst covertly signalling to their pop-punk origins. Then in 2015, the band followed up ‘Youth’ with a far more audacious and unpredictably written sophomore offering. ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ was – to the chagrin of some ‘Youth’ devotees – purposefully intense and even jarring at times, but ultimately was a commendable evolution of the Citizen sound and a demonstration of the group’s evolving songwriting prowess. The album charted at number #2 on the Billboard Vinyl charts and pushed the group up the ladder and onto some monumental stages.
In the process of creating ‘As You Please’, the band returned to longtime friend and collaborator Will Yip at Studio 4 and once again teamed up with Run For Cover Records for what is their most masterful effort to date. ‘As You Please’ feels like Citizen in their most nostalgic and spirited form, but sets aside the saccharine charm of ‘Youth’ that may have vexed some listeners. At the same time, they’ve done away with the abstract left turns that ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ often took, but in that process have not forfeited a sustained sense of ambition in their songwriting.
There are no grand introductions on ‘As You Please’. The album drops the audience directly into lead single ‘Jet’, a mid-tempo swirl of bleary guitar leads and the muted crooning of lead singer Mat Kerekes. The song quickly erupts into an anthemic pop-rock chorus, punctuated by a raspier, more urgent vocal style from Kerekes. Spirited hooks like this are littered throughout the album, most remarkably on tracks such as ‘Medicine’, ‘Ugly Luck’ and ‘Fever Days’.
While high-powered, memorable choruses abound throughout ‘As You Please‘, there is no shortage of slower paced moments. Title track ‘As You Please’ is a sombre, sluggish tune that allows the listener to decompress for a brief moment while it builds to an eruption of fuzzy bass and discordant guitar riffage, before collapsing away into some sparse drumming and a faint mechanical whirr. The band demonstrate their musical versatility with the piano lead ‘Discrete Routine’ and the airy acoustic album closer ‘Flowerchild’, showcasing mastery in a level of sonic experimentation that fans may not have been receptive to in the past.
The highlight here is undoubtedly ‘In The Middle Of It All’, the second track off the record and it’s second single to be released. The repetition of a harmonised falsetto chant of the track’s title serves as a hauntingly beautiful refrain surrounding the song’s melancholic chorus. “She’s the one that everybody notices/She thinks about an older friend, his face, his body in her bed,” Kerekes sings of an unrequited romance and surrenders to his heartache: “I succumb to your every want”. In a subtle stroke of ingenuity, the song closes as vocal and guitar layers crackle in and out of the listener’s speakers, giving the aural illusion of the song falling apart before you.
‘As You Please’ feels like a version of Citizen that is wholly comfortable in its own skin; a band with the confidence to leave nothing on the table creatively. Whether it’s due to Will Yip’s studio shepherding and expertise, or perhaps the absence of pressure in following a universally praised debut release like ‘Youth’, ‘As You Please’ just feels entirely natural. The band have conceded to the scientific pacing and affected spontaneity of their previous efforts, in turn offering up their most artistically impassioned project yet. But to stand up against the legacy of albums with the strength of ‘Youth’ and ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ is no mean feat, so Citizen fans may still find themselves returning to their back catalogue once the lustre of ‘As You Please’ begins to fade. In any case, ‘As You Please’ is a thoroughly impressive effort and an undeniable pleasure to listen to.
- In the Middle Of It All
- As You Please
- Ugly Luck
- Fever Days
- Discrete Routine
- I Forgive No One
- You Are a Star
‘As You Please’ is out now.