Review Summary: Fun with Citizen!
Hello and welcome to the Run For Cover Records edition of “Where Are They Now?”! Let’s check in with all our favourite popindiegrungegazepunk bands from approximately seven years and nine months ago. Oh, hmm. It seems like Pity Sex, Superheaven and Modern Baseball have broken up and Turnover is sat somewhere in a corner trying to be as boring as humanly possible. Basement and Tigers Jaw appear to have disappeared to the hell fires of big boi labels while miraculously still releasing good music, and, oh god, has anyone put up missing posters for Title Fight yet?
Right, where are Citizen at? Ah, they just released their fourth album Life in Your Glass World
, and it seems like they are somewhere… in the middle of it all. Released four years after the wonderfully introspective As You Please
, the band see fit to up the fun and embrace an array of new elements to craft a rather bumpy thrill ride.
Throughout Citizen’s discography, the band’s best songs have always been ones propelled by raw emotion rather than extraordinary songwriting: look no further than ‘The Night I Drove Alone’s iconic climax or the controlled chaos of ‘Fever Days’. This makes Life in Your Glass World
a bit of a mixed bag: passionate yells have been replaced with quirky synth lines, angsty atmospheres have cleared a path for an abundance of funky rhythms. Yet, it’s hard to actively dislike anything on the album, as it’s the most palpably fun
collection of songs the band have ever put out. Down a guitarist and drummer, Citizen appear to feel oddly reinvigorated by the loss, making up for a newfound lack of sonic depth with more than enough irresistible catchiness.
‘Death Dance Approximately’ is an excellent opener, introducing the album with a bass line thiccer than vocalist Mat Kerekes’ biceps. Its chorus is one of the most infectious moments on Life in Your Glass World
, boiling over with energy and efficiently setting the stage. As such, it’s a shame that lead single ‘I Want to Kill You’ follows, presenting an approximate carbon-copy of ‘Death Dance Approximately’s haphazardly catchy chorus, yielding less effective results. Elsewhere, ‘Call Your Bluff’ and ‘Pedestal’ come closest to sounding like classic Citizen cuts, with grungy textures bursting into towering choruses. However, the songs are distinctly Life…
tracks, as bright guitars add snappy rhythms and subtle synths overlay the delightfully heavy bass. On the one hand, these additions feel unnecessary: especially ‘Pedestal’ could have been an As You Please
highlight if it hadn’t been for its quirks, however, these unpredictable peculiarities can be said to be key to defining and setting the record apart.
‘Fight Beat’ serves as the ultimate example of this as Kerekes semi-mumbles over a simple, effective bass line throughout the track. Distorted drums and electronic quips drift in and out, resulting in a gracefully abrasive climax that finishes abruptly as the distinctly audible lyrics “cut off your big fat head
” leave you wondering what the hell you just listened to. Does it really matter when the song has more than succeeded at inducing a feet-tapping frenzy? ‘Blue Sunday’ follows a similar pattern, employing odd vocal patterns and synths that feel completely out of place, yet end up being the primary memorable element of the track. It’s easy to point out why such inclusions are mostly unnecessary, but why mock what can only be described as the band clearly having a good time and creating some pleasant, highly listenable music in the process?
Thankfully, the one-two punch consisting of ‘Black and Red’ and ‘Glass World’ prove that the concepts of ‘classic Citizen’ and ‘fun’ are not mutually exclusive. The two tracks manage to expertly fuse the band’s newfound quirkiness with the vigor and passion of previous outings. Tapping into Kerekes’ seamlessly bottomless stockpile of irresistible choruses, the former employs its charmingly plastic electronics into an intense web of grungy sounds. ‘Glass World’ serves as the more introverted cut, wholly contemplative yet more restless and energetic than your average Citizen ballad. When Life in Your Glass World
successfully interweaves its unique aspects, it’s truly exceptional. Sadly, such brilliant entanglements are largely reserved for its back half.
Ultimately, Life in Your Glass World
is a good album with lots of questionable elements. Yet, after three albums of grainy earnestness, it’s hard to fault Citizen for letting loose and having as much fun as possible while staying true to themselves. Embracing the head-bobbingly iffy lows makes the journey towards some of the band’s best songs yet more than worth it. Oh, and please don’t let Fueled by Ramen know.