Returning with their third album, ‘As You Please’, Ohio/Michigan quintet Citizen continue to mould themselves into versatile, multi-layered alt-rock band. With each passing release, they’ve honed in on crafting intriguing, melodic songs that become more compelling with each listen. ‘AYP’ continues this trend as vocalist Mat Kerekes opens himself up as he explores personal relationships throughout.
Opener, ‘Jet’ conjures up images of paranoia as he sings “I am a pawn in every step you take” amongst a backdrop of familiar emotive alt-rock instrumentation. While the titular track wallows in sweeping percussion and soft guitars, allowing Kerekes’ vocals to stand out; “I’m needing something to fill in the void”.
As you delve further into ‘AYP’, Kerekes offers a poetic insight into the break down of relationships (‘Ugly Luck’), his hometown (‘World’), and his unsympathetic stance to damaged former friends (‘I Forgive No One’). As a listener, it makes you want to pour over Kerekes’ words as you find a way to understand his world, yet you get the feeling he’s left these songs open to interpretation.
Stylistically, ‘AYP’ experiments beyond the standard alt-rock formula. For example, the downtrodden ‘Discrete Routine’ weaves along gentle piano keys, tender vocals with bluesy screeching guitars waking up the track. While penultimate track, ‘You Are A Star’, contains swirling organs and sparse drums, adding to its intense tone.
In terms of song quality and cohesiveness, ‘AYP’ is one of the most consistent records of its genre this year. While they rarely stray from delivering mid-tempo songs, Citizen have a flair for producing sprawling, cinematic choruses (see ‘World’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Control’). ‘In The Middle of It All’ is an early highlight with Kerekes’ a capella refrain of the title and an impactful chorus. While its glitched conclusion merely adds to its eerie nature.
Overall, ‘As You Please’ is a rich, layered record that marks a bold step forward for Citizen with each song capturing a unique mood and identity.
‘As You Please’ by Citizen is out now on Run For Cover Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)