Refusing to settle in one soundscape for too long lest anybody ever attempt to put them into a box, Ohio rockers Citizen channel fuzzed-out bridges and grand, emotional climaxes on new effort, Life In Your Glass World. Gemma Cockrell offers her thoughts.
Constructed in lead vocalist Mat Kerekes’ outbuilding in Toledo, Ohio (nicknamed the ‘Glass City’ – hence the album title), Citizen ferociously embody the term ‘garage rock’ on Life In Your Glass World.
This refreshingly independent approach was inspired by the band’s feelings of powerlessness during the recording of previous albums. Where Citizen have typically built songs around a guitar line, on Life In Your Glass World, they have freed themselves from monotonous formula and adopted a new process of building around a singular drum-beat.
The lead single, dance-punk-infused track I Want To Kill You, acknowledges immediately that it has been a long four years since the band were last active in the music scene. The opening lyric of the track, “I pick it up right where I left off”, demonstrates that Citizen have fortunately lost none of their passion for music since 2017’s As You Please. In fact, it appears to be quite the contrary – here, they sound more polished and larger-than-life than ever, fuelled by a new-found energy which can only be generated from self-sufficiently crafting the music that you truly want to make, on your own terms.
Second single Blue Sunday centres around a psychedelic bassline. The structure of the song is perhaps its most interesting element; split into logical sections of simple verses, an interlude of humming synths, aggressively chants, and smooth, ghost-like vocals. Full of unexpected twists and turn, the track proves that Citizen are unafraid to subvert the traditional tropes of rock that they may have previously honoured and press at vital new sonic boundaries.
Third single Black And Red is a more typical and obvious choice. Where Blue Sunday’s charm lies in its joyous experimentality, this track is impressive for different reasons. Following a more typical verse-chorus-verse structure results in a catchy and instantly memorable song, and demonstrates just how versatile Life In Your Glass World truly is. Whilst the former focused on the Ohio collective’s dreamy and atmospheric potential, Black And Red offers up the opposing side to their sound and cements their ability to write towering and anthemic rock hits. Beyond the singles, there are many other notable album tracks, including opener Death Dance Approximately and its punchy and powerful notes. It sets the mood for the entire record, immediately demonstrating that Life In Your Glass World is a record that successfully merges infectious dance grooves with the unrelenting intensity of rock instrumentation.
Despite the fusion at the heart of the album’s sound, this is far from all that the band have to offer here. Both Glass World and Winter Buds, placed fittingly towards the end of the record, begin with acoustic guitar instrumentals. The latter, which features dreamy high-pitched vocals similar to Blue Sunday, is a highlight of the record due to its further exploration of Citizen’s atmospheric tendencies. Midway through the track, it suddenly and unexpectedly descends into a full guitar breakdown, before returning for a hazy and atmospheric outro.
On the other hand, Fight Beat begins with grooving bass, adding experimental electronics unlike any of the other tracks on the album. Despite the individual songs melding cohesively, no two tracks on Life In Your Glass World are alike. Though it is bawdy closer Edge Of The World that provides the listener with Citizen’s prevailing mantra: “I hope you learn to love yourself.” These final words are wonderfully sincere considering this is exactly what Citizen have achieved on Life In Your Glass World – they have spent the past four years evaluating their own creative processes and defiantly seizing their dream of being in full control of their own creativity and re-learning to love the music that they are making. Life In Your Glass World is undoubtedly an album of catharsis, discovery, and liberation.
Written by: Gemma Cockrell
Edited by: Olivia Stock