Citizens! – Here We Are
- By Ismail Mulla -
- May 29, 2012
It’s time to do up the top button to your shirt, roll up your chinos and don your trendy cardigan. As the Citizens! eagerly awaited album ‘Here We Are’ drops. The five piece from London are signed to ultra-hip French label Kitsune and exhibit some of the traits of their predecessors who also got their start at the label.
But when you’re following in the footsteps of the likes of autoKratz, Bloc Party and Delphic to name a few Kitsune alumni, it can be a daunting prospect. In order to punch above their weight Citizens! enlisted the help of Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, who was given production detail.
‘Here We Are’ gets straight into its stride launching with the track ‘True Romance’. It’s a up tempo poppy number that sees Tom Burke’s vocals sparring with Lawrence Diamonds bleeps. Burke seems to have spent a lot of his waking hours listening to Hot Chip (another Kitsune alumni), as he sounds distinctly like Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.
Pop is a label that these boys aren’t afraid of, despite their hipster appearance. This is evident on lead single ‘Reptile’ which is another keyboard driven jingly number aided by the constant percussion. The burbling guitar provides some respite from the constant tinny sound. But once again the fulcrum is Burke’s vocals; on this track he exhibits a touch of androgyny with his high vocal range.
‘Love You More’ goes a different direction with a tribal jungle opening that wouldn’t go amiss as the soundtrack to Crash Bandicoot; it ebbs away before coming back in small doses. The important thing to note is that the Citizens! recognise the risk of sounding repetitive and there is a clear attempt to distinguish from track to track with little nuances, that can be put down to the experience of Kapranos, as the production is tight but the boundaries are enough for the boys to bring a variety of strokes to the game.
‘Let’s Go All The Way’ is one of the strongest tracks on the album, with a dormant almost spooky atmosphere. Burke’s vocals are like a coiled cobra ready to strike, but instead of clichéd spitting of venom what we get is a series of measured strikes. There is also a nod to their 80s forebears with tinny dance floor number ‘(I’m in love with your) Girlfriend’, with the cold sharp synths straight out of Depeche Mode’s playbook. Some tracks do feel like they’re going through the motions such as ‘Monsters’, which although has its own dynamic lacks that monster punch, the same can be said of ‘She Said’.
The Citizens! have a lot going for them and ‘Here We Are’ is a stellar debut album and judging by their work so far the band is a welcome addition to the new new-wave electro pop clique.
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