Citizen – Young States EP
Record Label: Either/Or Records
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Citizen may be the final, glaring piece of proof that I’m in some sort of darkly tinted rut. What they do differently, or even better, than peers like Balance and Composure or Tigers Jaw or even The Republic of Wolves isn’t instantly clear. There are thoughts of revenge and loss and camaraderie – all things we expect from early 20-something’s from bullshit places like Cleveland or Toledo or whatever. Vocalist Matt Kerekes finds more than enough ways to be cathartic, spewing acid-drenched lines like, “I’ve got this kind of hate that I can’t put away.” But rather than hit the tried-and-fucking-worn-down path of female hatred, Young States attacks the stagnation that can result from being in a place where tomorrow is as far away as the big city we crave. Citizen are just some dudes looking for an escape route.
And that’s ok. Even though, on paper at least, I have found my way out of the shitburbs, that is barely the beginning. On opener “Untitled,” over slow-rumbling drums and just-crunchy enough guitar licks, Kerekes belts the line, “I’d like to think we move on and on and on to better things.” Sometimes being stuck somewhere means that your mind is at its most free. There are lots of things separating us from monkeys or whatever, but perhaps the most important is the ability to hope. On the title track, when Kerekes’ gruff yell belts a line like, “Replace tonight with better things / And make my better days,” we remember that keeping our heads up can count for a whole hell of a lot.
At first pass, Young States might sound like the everyday hate-spewing from any indie-punk band. In reality, Citizen have created an album that doesn’t simply look for blame externally. Too often do we hunker down in our rooms, where it’s much too easy to find fault in everybody else. Young States, over basement-dwelling basslines and hazy guitar tones, looks inward. Kerekes spends just as much time explaining where he went wrong, and it’s nothing if not refreshing to hear some young dudes take the blame for the mistakes we all make. Hell, isn’t that what this age is all about? So yeah, fine, things suck sometimes. Things suck a lot. But what Citizen reminded me, is that things will continue to suck until we figure out our part in the negativity. It’s not something we’re all prepared to hear. Fine, no rush. Sometimes it’s just as OK to accept the confusion as it is to explain everything. It’s this sort of Who-Ever-Really-Knows mentality that creeps up in lines like, “This home isn’t home to me / But I’ve never felt more at home.” We’re not exactly sure what’s going on all the time, but closing our eyes and screaming at the top of our lungs won’t fix anything. Screaming along to Young States, however, could do wonders.
Recommended If You Like: Balance and Composure, Such Gold, Tigers Jaw