As You Please, by Citizen
Suggested by Todd Beckett
In writing almost two hundred and sixty reviews, I’ve picked up a few insights on how any particular one will be received.
Generally, I’d wager that the reader gets a larger kick out of the outlier reviews than they would from those that occupy the centre ground. So, your ones, twos and threes fare much better than your fours, fives and sixes, as do your sevens, eights and nines. The mythical ten out of ten? I’m sure that’ll be pure gas, should it ever materialise.
Additionally, the readership is more engaged when the album is a well-known quantity, a huge act with a seminal work. Everyone has an opinion on Queen, or Alanis Morissette, or Kanye West. Not so much acts like Born of Osiris, or Hazmat Modine, or Circle Takes The Square.
There are other concerns too. Reviews that go up midweek tend to fare better than weekend reviews, all things considered. Daytime or early evening reviews outstrip those blasted out after midnight. And reviews of albums that have a personal resonance, that spark a fun story or intimate reveal, do better than those with more shapeless introductions.
As You Please, by Citizen. An album of average, nondescript music, by a band that are far from well-known, reviewed on a Saturday and published in the smallest of the wee small hours.
Things are not looking good, folks.
Citizen are an American rock band, hailing from Ohio. They specialise in pop-rock with an emo core, with Mat Kerekes on vocals and the Hamm brothers sharing four-string and six-string guitar duties. As You Please is their third album release, from 2017.
We kick things off with the forceful and upbeat Jet, with swirling guitars and engaging drums. Kerekes’s vocals reveal themselves early to be both couched in echo and verging on the desperate. He sounds assured, and even, but now and then he strains into the odd sub-scream phrase that brings an admitted emotional depth alongside a vaguely unhinged feeling. It’s out of place, I think, but a definite design choice so who am I to argue?
Emo is a weird genre, and Citizen are a good example of that. They come over a emotional and poignant, as is the hallmark of the sound, but they also pile on a guitar that’s thuggish, almost brutal in places, often in the quieter times when you’d expect a little more grace and nuance. When they do find their feet and offer us something smooth and exciting, they tarnish it with some strange mood swings and tempo shifts. But their fast songs (like the aforementioned Jet or the swirling Ugly Luck) are hardly furious, and their slow songs (like the power-ballad Control or the title track As You Please) are more sluggish than soulful.
There are some good parts. You Are A Star is mesmeric, and the excellent Flowerchild is particularly strong, but my standout is In The Middle of it All, which provides a brooding groove that’s the best thing on offer. But even with this tasty morsel, the overall dish feels a touch bland and boring. I give citizen a totally predictable 5/10, and am keen to move on to more enticing fare.