If you haven’t heard the pack of hard-hitting bands from independent label Run For Cover Records yet, well, you’ve missed a tonne of potential. Michigan’s Citizen are just one of many to grace the roster of the American label and release a record that oozes musical ability, simply titled ‘Youth’.
Lumped in with the likes of Brand New and Basement, Citizen have been confusing music enthusiasts as to where exactly they fit on the genre scale. Emo? Pop-punk? Or simply punk? The truth is, Citizen don’t particularly need a genre to express their stripped down, emotional, angst-ridden musical direction.
Like many great records, ‘Youth’ takes its time to express itself. Rather than hitting home with track after track of forthright rock music, we’re subjected to a more subtle and candid exposure to the ethos that lies behind ‘Youth’. Gentle, visceral vocals are supported by urgent guitars as ‘Roam The Room’ gives Citizen their first exposure and, subsequently, our first taste of what is yet to come.
The constant sharpness of Mat Kerekes‘ vocal delivery allows Citizen to be punctual and critical throughout this record. Tracks such as the ever so inviting ‘Figure You Out’ and the hauntingly lonely ‘The Night I Drove Alone’, which hits home with the repetitive declaration: “And I should’ve crashed the car / When I was all alone / Escaped from all I know”. But, that’s how Citizen work: simple and precise.
It’s not boring, and it’s not basic to the point of parody. It’s simple and effective. The effective use of straight-to-the-point lyrics allow Citizen to be clear and candid with their message. For instance, the pressing question in ‘Sleep’: “Do you sleep anymore?”, or the rallying chorus of ‘Sick And Impatient’, which is sure to be a hit at shows, “I got, I got sick / I got sick and impatient”. Sure, there’s nothing profound here. There’s no elaborate metaphor or simile. It’s a clear message that hits home perfectly and precisely.
For Citizen, the effect of the message is everything. Delivering the message via lyrics, melody and vocal delivery is important. But, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is a whole band here. The guitars are whole heartedly behind the sharp delivery of ‘Youth’. Whether it’s the sombre melody of ‘The Night I Drove Alone’ or the catchy lick in ‘Your Head Got Misplaced’, the guitar work here is not to be disregarded.
There’s no catch here. Everything that’s on display on ‘Youth’ is calculated. Citizen are a band that have a lot to say in such a short time frame and they wish to be heard. If you don’t want to listen, then you will be made to. If you want to listen, then you will be informed. There is no in between.
Written by Calv Robinson