Review Summary: Diving into late 90's nostalgia, proves beneficial for the Michigan quintet.
Youth is overrated; I’m talking the album not the aspect of life although the same may be true depending on your outlook, for a debut release it wasn’t necessarily bad but it seemed obvious Citizen had yet to really craft an identity from within their respective scene. Everybody Is Going To Heaven doesn’t quite separate Citizen from a slew of other bands, but it does serve to help push them toward a more developed sound and as an album it flows significantly better than its predecessor.
Comparisons to Brand New’s Daisy seem popular, but truthfully the change in Citizen’s sound reflects the changes in sound made by label mates Tigers Jaw and Title Fight on their respective sophomore efforts, if anything the album is more reminiscent of Jets to Brazil’s debut than anything Jesse Lacey’s been involved in. Much like the aforementioned acts, a general slowing down and reduction of poppy melodies abounds and in Citizen’s case it works out for the best. While no track, save for lead single Stain, is as immediately gripping as Roam The Room or The Summer, each cut on the album is densely layered and on repeated listens allow one to delve deeper into the sound being put forth.
While it may take time getting used to, Everybody is Going To Heaven is without a doubt the best piece of music Citizen have released, a greater understanding of musical structure is undeniably present; it’s not uncommon to find a track slowly build into a brilliant, yet momentary, crescendo, this renewed understanding of musical dynamics greatly improves the base sound that Citizen had showcased on previous works.
No single track demonstrates this new approach to song writing quite like Ten; a track which opens with rolling basslines and whispered vocals only to gradually build into an increasingly chaotic noise-fest that acts a perfect contrast to the majority of the song’s make up. While these concepts might not necessarily be new within the genre, they’re entirely new for Citizen and in taking this new approach to their output Citizen have taken multiple steps toward becoming an all-round better band than they’ve ever been before.
You mightn’t find Citizen’s choice of sound particularly awe-inspiring or original, but if that’s your sole qualifier for musical quality you’re likely going to be left disappointed most days anyway. Citizen haven’t quite made it to a point where they can be considered an island of a band, separate from all others but themselves, but at least they’re on a significantly less crowded continent with the likes of Balance and Composure or Tigers Jaw, it’s not the worst choice they could’ve made and it leaves the door open for Citizen to advance further into a more interesting direction than may have seemed possible during their initial outset. Everybody Is Going To Heaven isn’t for everyone, for fans of Youth the departure in sound may be a major hurdle to get over, but pushing through and giving this album a chance is likely to be a rewarding experience.