Review Summary: What it is to be young.“I watched you burn and I felt it. You’re spitting words like you’re someone else…why’d you wait for the summer to chew and spit me out"”
Citizen’s single “The Summer” was their first track to actually catch my interest. You see, before Youth
, Citizen were just another pop-punk band that randomly popped up on people’s radar with the release of their EP, Young States
. While being well received in the pop-punk community, I, not being a huge fan of pop-punk as a genre except for a few bands, turned my head at the release. I saw nothing special about Young States
, and I still don’t. It wasn’t until recent that Citizen started popping up on my radar again, this time, with talks of them ‘changing their sound’ and ‘going all 90′s!’ Immediately the thought to run through my head was “oh, no. Not another Title Fight/Basement wanna be.” I turned my head at Citizen once again, hoping to let the hype die down just a little before I actually tried to give them an honest listen. It wasn’t until I randomly came across “The Summer” on youtube that Citizen caught my interest.
“The Summer” does something right. It perfectly encompasses a heartbreaking summer. It captures one of the many turmoils that plagues people in their youth. Youth. The period between childhood and adult age. The recurring theme and name of the album. In a short thirty minutes, Citizen manage to produce an honest album about being young. Lyrical themes of heartbreak, suicide, and feeling out of place are current throughout all of Youth
. Though not every track is stands out, Youth
does have a couple of gems that really pull the listener in. What sells the songs most of the time is the tight musicianship and production on Youth
. Though the band can sound a bit derivative of their influences at times, they play off of each other so well on the album that it’s easy to not fault them for doing so. Tracks like “Sick and Impatient” succeed with their stellar production and almost whispered vocals, and slower tracks like “Speaking With A Ghost” succeed lyrically with the thought of being completely alone, thinking about that certain person who was once there, and wondering where they are now. “It’s been a while since you’ve called. I’m speaking with a ghost and I’m wondering how you’re making out.”
Though not all the songs are of the highest quality lyrically, the other element that helps to sell the angst driven album is its honesty.
Now, just like our youth, not everything goes well. Citizen did a great job for the most part with this release, but as mentioned before it can be a little derivative and lacking in originality. On this record Citizen play it safe for the most part and don’t branch out as much as they could have. Youth is a broad subject, and it is not all bad. Most of the album focuses on the downs of being young and none of the positives. A lot goes on during that period where you start growing up and maturing as a human being, and I think Citizen could have tackled some of those themes and backed them up exceptionally well with their admirable musicianship. It is a summer album, and though the heartbreak part is certainly covered, a lot more than just being heartbroken and lonely can happen. It is a personal gripe with the album, and I believe that Citizen would have excelled in covering more than just certain lyrical themes with their genuine sense of writing, seeing as youth can’t be pigeon-holed into sadness. The album can also get repetitive at times and lacks variety and substance. Like I said before, Citizen really play it safe with this record and stick to mostly slowed down chord progressions for a giant portion of the album.
Overall, Citizen’s Youth
is an excellent album and a solid debut for the young band. The pros vastly outweigh the cons and make it a definite must-listen for fans of Title Fight, Basement, Balance and Composure, etc. Drenched in sadness and honesty, Youth
can be taken in pieces, or as a whole, though it is better taken in as whole for the first listen. Lyrically set up at times like select pages from Mat Kerekes’ personal diary, the record is honest and heartfelt for its short, half hour length.