Citizen are one of the most underrated rising stars in current rock music. Debut album Youth, released in 2013, saw them gain a small-ish following due to their heartfelt lyrics and interesting guitar melodies. Although Youth had all the ingredients to make Citizen the next big thing in emo, they are still viewed as a somewhat unknown band. New album Everybody Is Going To Heaven seems to be another success by the band, but this time they have changed things around.
From opener Cement, it is clear that Citizen are not the band they once were. The grittier guitars and chugging bass line give the song a heavier, darker feel, and makes it feel almost like a statement that this album is not going to be like Youth. It’s a true statement, too, as there is a distinct lack of expected singalong choruses and swirling pop punk-like riffs throughout. Instead, we are given a collection of ten experimental and refreshingly interesting tracks. Discordant guitars are featured heavily, especially in tracks like My Favourite Color, which give the songs a grungy vibe and sense of quirkiness. Not all songs are like this, however. A welcome, more calming break from heavier tracks coming before it, Heaviside can only be described as a thing of beauty. Mellow guitar lines from Nick Hamm and Ryland Oehlers blend perfectly with Mat Kerekes’ irresistibly smooth vocals, not only creating something completely unlike anything Citizen have ever done, but something truly and utterly compelling.
Throughout the record, the brilliance of Kerekes’ vocals is truly showcased. Dive Into My Sun has wispy layered vocals at the forefront, while Stain offers harder, more aggressive growls. Upon listening to the full range and tone of Kerekes’ voice, one cannot help but draw comparisons to Jesse Lacey of Brand New, as well as wonder why the hell these vocals have not seen the light of day in their full glory.
Although Everybody… is filled to the brim with moments of beauty and innovation, there are a few moments where it falls slightly flat. Penultimate track Yellow Love seems rather one-dimensional and does not really go anywhere. The latter point is also found with Weave Me (Into Yr Sin), where it causes nothing more than frustration as the track’s incredibly interesting verses positively radiate potential. Although the vocals rise in pitch, the guitar ultimately remains the same, leaving you wanting more, but also feeling quite unfulfilled. Although the album clearly sets out to show the versatility of the band, Stain, easily the heaviest track on there, seems almost out of place. This is because it is very scream-heavy, and is a stark contrast to songs like Heaviside and slow-building closer Ring Of Chain, two of the album’s standout tracks as well as two of the softest, which leave it seeming more like a novelty.
Everybody Is Going To Heaven is a thoroughly enjoyable record in the most unexpected way, and although does have its ‘average’ moments, the better ones are undoubtedly the ones that will stick in your mind. Some people may have already dismissed Citizen as a band for teenagers who are avid users of Tumblr, but it is clear that they may no longer overtly fit that description. The core values of the band such as the heartfelt lyrics and emotional vocals are still evident, but they have bettered themselves and evolved their style. And it’s brilliant.
For fans of: Brand New, Balance & Composure, Title Fight
Words by Georgia Jackson