Citizen - Youth
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Record Label: Run For Cover
“And I know that it gets colder at this time of year… and I know that it gets colder as the lies fly by."
Those were the words of Mat Kerekes, and the gang vocals of a band called Citizen from their first EP/might-as-well-be album Young States. The song was “Right Through”, and when I first heard it, I was on a cold bus ride to school my senior year of high school…I know, that seems like the kind of detail someone forges to bulk up a good review. But I swear by this, and the reason is, that gang vocal, “Right Through”, and practically all of Young States became one of my favorite releases of all-time.
You know the kind of record; maybe it’s unexpected and makes it into your hands via some friends and some blank discs, or maybe it’s the pre-order you’ve been anticipating for months. Either way, it’s the record that finds you exactly when it’s what you needed most- for me, that was Young States. Relatively insignificant to the music community, it may have been (and may always be, although it deserves more recognition), but to me, it meant someone else out there knew how I felt for a solid semester, or at least that cold November morning. But this is not a review of that record, and this is certainly not some kind of a Live Journal post from Aaron Mook- this is about what came next.
By all definitions, Youthcould be looked back on as a classic. Dropping some of the pop-punk edge they had begun to build their resume with (although they were already mature enough to bring about comparisons to Balance & Composure and Brand New), Citizen’s official debut follows their peers’ movements towards the revival of darker, 90’s-tinted material, and they definitely do not disappoint in this regard. “Figure You Out” is filled with the aggression you’d expect from the band, but it’s more of an aggression you feel rather than hear; it also happens to rival “Right Through” as my favorite Citizen track. “How Does It Feel?” burns with the intensity of a Hum song, while showing off a decidedly softer side of the band that appears often throughout Youth (just ask preceding song, “Sleep”).
At the same time, opener “Roam Around the Room” and single “The Summer” are the kind of emotive triumphs that make masterpieces (of a Devil and God variety). The former contains an opening riff to really get that blood pumping and one of my favorite lyrical call-outs in recent memory (“And when your friends say I’m a waste of time/Well you can find out on your own/And if it’s coming down to pick a side/You can decide where to go”) while the latter boasts beautiful guitar work and a chorus equal parts falsetto and desperate strain, all-in-all ranking as one of the best singles I’ve heard in a very, very long time.
Of course, you should take all of this in with a grain of salt; the real flaw with Youth is how it resembles songs we’ve already heard. Sure, comparisons to certain aforementioned bands are unavoidable, but come on- is “Sleep” really better than Brand New’s “You Stole”? Again, “Figure You Out” is one of the best songs in Citizen’s canon, but does it really sound much different from “Bed” (another Brand New take)? Even the upbeat, fast-paced and harmony-laden “Your Head Got Misplaced” sounds like Title Fight’s “Calloused”, minus some edge. What really sucks is how some songs just seem to get lost in translation throughout the (short) duration of the album. Individually, the tracks sound fantastic, and even together, they still make a fantastic debut…but to put it simply, Youthjust barley ends up being as memorable as you want it to be
That being said, Citizen’s first LP is truly something to be proud of in today’s “scene”. “The Night I Drove Alone” and “Sick and Impatient” are both killer tracks that take their time before exploding into the most energetic moments on the record, while closing track “Drawn Out” is the best song never included on Floral Green. “Speaking With a Ghost” is the ultimate representation of the album; it’s the kind of introspective slow-burner that leaves the listener fast-forwarding through pieces of mid-tempo filler to revisit another one of the band’s best cuts. For first timers, I may always recommend Young States. I do that because of the emotional ties I’ve made with that record...they’re emotional ties, however, that I’m positive will be made again between incredible bands like Citizen and bundled-up kids having a rough November, just discovering a record like Youth.
Key Tracks: "Figure You Out", "The Summer", "Speaking With a Ghost"[/color]