Citizen is a young and upcoming alternative punk band from Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio. I have been a fan of them ever since I discovered their EP entitled Young States in 2012; their new album, Youth, sets the bar high for summer 2013. The album consists of 10 solid tracks – each offering their own appeal. Citizen’s Youth is quite the album, and I’m going to tell you exactly why.
The album begins with “Roam the Room,” which I feel is one of the strongest tracks, and an excellent choice to begin with. Mat Kerekes’ voice sounds splendid, and I could tell right off the bat this album’s production is outstanding. The chorus is particularly catchy, and I can’t help but sing along to myself. Citizen has taken their signature sound and refined it to be heavier, yet still melodic and moving. “Figure You Out” is up next, and we see the band take it down a notch. The bass sounds great and fits well with Kerekes’ soft singing. This song has one of my favorite lyrics from this record (“So I cut you open, so I could see you inside out, figure you out”). It sounds like this album is very personal to Mat, and possibly the rest of the band as well.
Up next is “The Summer,” which I believe to be the other best track on the album. Mat showcases his vocal range on this song, and this song has an awesome flow to it. For me, this is the track that defines the whole album. The guitar leads in this track give it that signature Citizen sound and the drums are satisfactory. The song fades out perfectly in the end, and we go into “Sleep,” which is another slower track. This is another track that sounds very personal, with lyrics such as “I would like to feel alive again, but I guess that can wait.” I could fall asleep to this song, and that’s a good thing. The ending of this song sounds sad as hell, but with just guitar it is still full of emotion and tranquility.
“Sleep” then transitions perfectly into “How Does it Feel?” Half-way through the album, it’s apparent that Kerekes does not half-ass anything and fills each track with emotion. I think Citizen is somewhat trying something new with this track, as it’s one of the slowest they’ve ever written. This is another great sleeping song, and I find it very relaxing. “The Night I Drove Alone” is also another very slow track, for most of it. As the album goes on, it gets more personal and emotional, at least up to this point. A memorable lyric from this song is “I should have crashed the car, when I was all alone, escape from all I know” and “You hanged me up as a souvenir of what I couldn’t be.” It’s easy for me to get lost dissecting the lyrics of each track and trying to feel what Mat had felt. When the guitars kick in at the end, they just add to the feel of this song, and I love it.
We get away from the slowness with the next song, “Speaking with a Ghost.” This song is still pretty mellow, but not as much as the previous few tracks. As I listened through this album many times, I noticed that each song flows very well, including this one. To me, this is a track I’d listen to driving by myself at night, as that is what Kerekes is singing about. “Your Head Got Misplaced” is next. One of the only qualms I have with this track is that it doesn’t really fit after “Speaking with a Ghost.” I believe this track would have fit much better earlier in the album, such as this song being track two. Nonetheless, this is still a solid song, and all instruments sound exceptional. Perhaps Citizen put this track so late in the album so their listeners would get perked up again.
“Sick and Impatient” is the next song. I don’t think this song is the best on the album, but it is certainly not bad. The chorus sounds a bit repetitive to me, but doesn’t stop me from listening to it. “Drawn Out” is the last song on Youth. This song is somewhat fast, but still has that mellow Citizen sound. At first, I didn’t think this was a good closer track, but I changed my mind after more listens. The guitar and drums leading out at the end finishes this album on a good note.
Youth is the first LP Citizen has written, and it is an excellent one. The guitars have a strong crunchy sound throughout, the vocals are impressive, and drums and bass are quality as well. I can put this album on and fall asleep to it, and like I said, that’s a good thing. Youth is the type of album that I feel fits perfect for summer afternoon/evening bike rides and driving around at sunset with the windows down. For me, this and Turnover’s Magnolia are the perfect summer night albums. Citizen experiments with slower songs on this album and as I’ve been saying, they do more than pull it off, but make the songs flow and have a relaxing feel. If you haven’t yet, listen to this band/album, as this is one of the best releases of 2013.