Album Review: As You Please by Citizen

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

Very strong lyrically and melodically, the latest album from Citizen is their darkest and most solemn yet. The grunge band from Ohio really shine through the darkness with their latest addition to their discography – regardless of the wordier lyricism, you can still imagine crowds screaming the words to all the songs at one of their concerts.

The album itself is overall moody. It’s moody because it feels like a cathartic release. It feels more mature though the pop-punk/post-hardcore elements aren’t lost entirely, proven on the almost scream-like singing from the chorus of Jet. The album opener really sets the mood of the album which explores a lot of self doubt, some of the lyrics that best explore this theme go: “All of our ears to the floorboards / My eyes are falling everywhere / I know who is in the backyard / But who’s that living in our home?”, playing with the idea that we pay so much attention to others and what their doing that we lose sight on the ones closest to us and even ourselves.

Mat Kerekes sings about being on the receiving end of the lack of attention in Ugly Luck, talking about how he feels like “a fly on the wall” and being isolated enough that crowds don’t bother him. This can also be interpreted as the fame he found through the band isn’t what he wants or needs. This is also displayed in the song Fever Days: “Room of many bodies, still no one that I could talk to / A million faces here, but I can only pick out a few”. This is certainly a record that displays sometimes the deep psychological damage fame can really do.

The instrumentation from the rest of the band on As You Please is more low-key and melodic than other releases from Citizen in the past. Possibly following the nature of the lyrics, they explore a different style of grunge, a more ‘emo’ approach with slower tempos, more piano and layered vocals. This is all very well displayed in the slow-burner Discrete Routine. The theme of watching people and following other people’s lives is apparent here also which drives this album.

However, with the lyrics on As You Please have more of an ‘outsider’ and ‘isolated’ viewpoint, the album feels intimate. Citizen have nailed the balance between sharing stories and problems but also letting you into a world that may have been shut off from the rest of the world for a long time. Depression and mentally straining illnesses are getting a lot more understood worldwide and sharing experiences or feelings for other people to relate to it something that music does so well. Whether it’s dancing around in your room to your favorite songs or balling your eyes out at songs that you relate to so much it hurts.

Where Kerekes sings about how he feels like he “can’t give anything” and how he only feels like a “fleeting thought” is a brilliant example of where he really is giving something to the world. People will be able to relate to these songs and could mean a lot to someone. Coming hand in hand with the fear of the fame he might be feeling it’s a dangerous combo, but still positive.

What’s so beautiful about music is that it is thought provoking and pushes you to analyse and go deeper than the surface level. This album does exactly that and through analysis you can relate deeper and deeper. Chorus’ and melodies will stick with you for days after listening and it’s then do you realise it’s an album you do really enjoy. Citizen really feel like they’re progressing and it feels like they’re going to progress into something greater still. A band to seriously watch out for.

rating 8