Album Review: Citizen – Everybody is Going to Heaven

The second album is a tough one to get right, if a band even gets there at all; the point at which a band are expected to deliver something amidst changing circumstances. Citizen are well aware of the pressures facing their band; ripping up their old rulebook and reinventing the band from the ground up was always going to be a challenge, but it’s one they decided to face head-on, and it’s resulted in a record that’s like nothing we’ve heard from them before. Last year’s one-off single ‘Silo’ was a taster of what was to come, but even since then, the quintet have progressed in a manner that means the band that released ‘Youth’ last year are nowhere to be heard, except perhaps in Mat Kerekes’s vocals. ‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’ marks the beginning of a new era for a band who have made some bold strides in the years since the release of debut EP ‘Young States’ in 2011.

The sound of their latest offering is loud, brash and heavy, handled with extreme care by producer Will Yip, who gave the band pointers on their tougher new sound; those tips have paid off in spades. From their pop-punk beginnings, the five piece have gone through their alternative rock phase and now settled into something considerably darker and more aggressive. Singles ‘Cement’ and ‘Stain’ are cut from similar cloth, an ideal introduction to the record; brooding bass lines, surprising song structures, grunge influences, bathed in noise? Check. Kerekes has been working on his vocal delivery, and it’s on ‘Stain’ that he delivers arguably his most impressive performance to date, switching effortlessly between full-throated screams and a beautifully melodic chorus (“My heart still beats for nothing / Take me by the hand, be my architect in grey”) as the band summon a storm of noise around him.

Their new record is a lot more focused on lyrical content than we’ve heard from Citizen before, and it tackles themes that are as stark and arresting as the album art. “No one seems to know anyone else / No one knows who they love or how they smile / Where do people go when they need some deliverance?” Kerekes wonders on the quietly affecting ‘Heaviside’, one of the more restrained moments on the album, an acoustic track that manages to set up ‘My Favourite Color’ perfectly; the latter’s an album highlight, focusing on the band’s ability to make use of tension and dissonance in their music, moving from bruising riffs to unsettling calm and back again. It’s a world away from what Citizen were previously known for, bringing together dark melody and moments of pure catharsis to ensure that ‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’ is a captivating listen, the sound of a band undergoing the sort of metamorphosis that will surely bring acclaim. Their journey into darker territory may initially be offputting for fans coming from ‘Youth’, but by the time ‘Yellow Love’ and the extraordinary power of ‘Ring of Chain’ bring the album to a close, you’ll be floored. Highly recommended.

4/5

‘Everybody is Going to Heaven’ by Citizen is out now on Run For Cover.

Citizen links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Gareth O’Malley (@vetusmemoria)

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