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Citizen - As You Please (Album Review)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 Written by Jennifer Geddes

‘As You Please’ eschews the extremes of Citizen’s most recent album, ‘Everybody’s Going To Heaven’, and features some of the band’s most mainstream sounds yet, with the production talents of Will Yip adding shine. But it is lacking in conviction.

The band’s debut album, ‘Youth’, also produced by Yip, was one of the punk and indie-rock crossovers that came to characterise the modern emo sound. Its follow up, though, took more influence from ‘90s grunge and shoegaze. Yip was again on board, while the same year he worked on Title Fight’s ‘Hyperview’, another LP to typify the emo revival.

This year, Yip’s fingerprints have been found on Turnover’s ‘Good Nature’, the Menzingers’ ‘After The Party’ and Tigers Jaw’s ‘Spin’, all of which have seen these band’s explore high production values while retaining their original sensibilities.

The net result has been albums that don’t necessarily crossover into the pop charts but have a decidedly more commercial sound.

‘As You Please’ follows this trend, particularly on tracks like Jet. The lead single has a catchy chorus and jangly guitar melodies, but is backed by heavy bass that fills out the sound and makes it into a radio-friendly rock anthem.

In the Middle of It All, meanwhile, sees the band explore a more soulful sound, with layered vocal harmonies in a chorus that contrasts with heavier verses. Frontman Mat Kerekes often utilises a softer vocal style compared with the band’s past releases and, after putting out his debut solo album, the Yip-helmed ‘Luna & The Wild Blue Everything’, last year, it’s interesting to see how this experience has filtered into Citizen.

But, despite the deliberately emotive delivery on ‘As You Please’, Kerekes fail to actually stir the emotions. That could be because his lyrics struggle to make any kind of statement. The album is reportedly about the troubles facing his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything that evokes place or story.

Too much of it, too, sounds like a band paying tribute to their influences. The title track, as much as it is broodingly beautiful, contains the lines “Come as you please, as you want”, which immediately brings to mind Nirvana, while the ghost of Brand New looms large over much of the instrumentation.

Citizen’s career has followed closely alongside Yip’s, with each album reflecting their respective developments. Standout tracks such as Jet and In The Middle of It All show that the band are still progressing as songwriters, but it still seems like they are trying to find their own voice.

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