ALBUM REVIEW: Citizen – Life In Your Glass World

Release Date: March 26th 2021
Label: Run For Cover Records


Originally poster boys for the emo revival movement, Citizen have done their utmost to distance themselves from the angst-riddled, post-pop-punk of 2013’s ‘Youth’ with each subsequent release.

While ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ was an initially misunderstood follow-up that saw the band pursue a decidedly darkened, grunge route, the arguably more focused, melodious ‘As You Please’ was heralded by many as the definitive project Mat Kerekes and his bandmates had been striving to craft up until that point.

It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise then that ‘Life In Your Glass World’ is their most natural sounding follow-up to a preceding album yet, with plenty of the crisp clarity and pop-rock sensibility still intact. That isn’t to say that the Ohio band’s fourth full-length is less inspired, or wades in the shadow of its predecessor. By finally striking a core, comfortable sound, ample room is now available for differing ideas to help shade and elevate the material.

For starters, this is easily the most danceable Citizen album yet, with tracks like the curb-stomping opener ‘Death Dance Approximately’ as well as both singles, ‘I Want To Kill You’ and ‘Blue Sunday’, featuring balls out grooves, funky riffs, and, in the latter’s case, lush, vibrant chillwave synths.

Elsewhere, you’ve got the menacing, krautrock leaning banger, ‘Fight Beat’, that pulses with a monotonous, hypnotic bass line and robotic vocals, resulting in one of the strangest additions to the Citizen canon yet. Where predominately acoustic cuts ‘Glass World’ and ‘Winter Buds’ bare the most similarity to Kerekes‘ solo work, there’s a definite sense that the band are now at a place to sonically bridge the divide, as evidenced by the fuzzed-out guitar solo crescendo towards the backend of the latter.

The perplexing thing about ‘Life In Your Glass World’ is how at odds Kerekes appears to be with the colourful, often upbeat musical backdrops he places himself and his uncertain lyricism against. A persistent point of contention is the desire to leave behind the more brutal honesty and hurt explored on earlier releases, with constant references made to a reluctance to cling to past pain or sell wounds for success. Even the “you” of ‘I Want To Kill You’ could allude to the pressures to endlessly meet fan pressure or expectation, or it could be addressing the more youthful, exposed identity Kerekes desires to leave behind, both musically and personally.

On the invigorating, bittersweet closer ‘Edge Of The World’, we’re assured that “though I feel undone, I got more to offer”. It’s a small but vital summarisation and plea to push forward through the struggles explored in both Kerekes‘ glass world and our own.