Citizen’s second album is a notably different record without ever going out of its way to alienate.
Label: Run For Cover
Released: 22nd June 2015
A lot can change in two years. Look back to when Citizen dropped their last record, ‘Youth’, in 2013 and you’ll find that a large majority of the bands they stood alongside back then are near-unrecognisable today. Title Fight have traded in their scrappy post-hardcore for a more downtrodden shoegaze aesthetic, Daylight have changed their name to Superheaven and become the undisputed kings of 90s revivalism, and Pianos Become The Teeth don’t even scream anymore.
While it’s unfair to judge a band on what their peers are doing, the rapidly changing nature of their musical landscape poses some questions: how are Citizen going to progress? Will there be as drastic a facelift as some of their current and former Run For Cover labelmates have undergone? If not, what are they doing instead? All this adds an extra air of intrigue to what was already going to be a highly anticipated release.
In terms of progression, ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ takes Citizen down a much moodier path than they’ve trodden in the past. Sure, they’ve never exactly been about sunshine and rainbows, but they’ve never released anything as obtusely brooding as the grooves on opener ‘Cement’, nor anything as pensive as the minimalist introspection present on ‘Heaviside’. With that moodiness in mind, there’s a fair few nods to Brand New’s ‘Daisy’ here; the verses on ‘Stain’, for example, follow a similar ‘foreboding bass-lead rumbling cut by frenetic guitar-work’ pattern as ‘Vices’ did.
That said, this won’t be as much of a leap for long-time fans as some of the stylistic switch-ups of the aforementioned bands. Rather than a total U-turn, ‘EIGTH’ is still very Citizen at its core where the best songs are still primarily hook-lead – ‘Numb Yourself’ does this particularly well and is probably the one track that would sonically fit in amongst the track-listing on any of their previous LPs.
There’s a drawback to all of this though. Something vital has been lost in the transition: the excellent pacing that was so crucial to ‘Youth’. It doesn’t happen often, but there are a few moments where it feels like the underlying gloom of it all might just be outstaying its welcome. It’s not that it ever gets ‘boring’ per se, but the slower, bass-heavy builds used to create ‘EIGTH’ can start to feel tiresome in places. It’s not jarring enough to taint the album entirely, but it does make for a slightly more taxing listen than necessary.
Still, a few extra minutes on the runtime won’t detract from what Citizen have admirably achieved. It would’ve been easy to succumb to peer pressure, bust out the delay pedals and start wearing Slowdive shirts; almost as easy as it would’ve been to rewrite ‘Youth’ and stick to what worked last time. Instead, they’ve managed to make a notably different record without going out of their way to alienate their existing fanbase. A simple enough concept, but one that’s been something of a rarity lately and one that sets Citizen apart from the trends of those around them. Ryan De Freitas