Citizens! - Here We Are - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Citizens! - Here We Are

by Aidan Rylatt Rating:7.5 Release Date:2012-05-28

Looking at the track list for Citizens!' debut album, and spying the wonderfully titled '(I'm in Love With Your) Girlfriend', I was reminded of a bit in Alex James's autobiography, Bit of a Blur, in which he wrote about Pulp: "They were in our birds' knickers: devious little fuckers... At least Oasis said they were going to shag your bird". Citizens! are no Viva Brother-style Oasis re-hash, however. Produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, who recently dismissed Oasis as "boring", this is an indie-pop album through and through. So if Citizens! are channelling the spirit of Pulp and the balls of Oasis they must be onto a winner right?

Well, to a certain extent. At their best Citizens! fit seamlessly into the line of bands like Mystery Jets, Late of the Pier and Django Django (who have already produced a strong contender for album of the year) in throwing out irresistible synth-led pop songs. 'True Romance' begins with plinky-plonky piano, interrupted by synth stabs, which lead to a chorus that sounds not dissimilar to a slowed-down version of the Golden Silvers song of the same name, and is equally as wonderful.

'Reptile', which manages not only to make the line "Don't let your blood run cold" sound sensuous but also has one of the most naggingly catchy choruses heard anywhere in 2012, is even better. Lead singer Tom Burke sounds endearingly yearning as he purrs about "turning into a reptiiiiiiiile", perhaps at odds with the lyrical content which seems to be a warning about drug addiction ("Feeding off your friends and hang out late/ Everybody wants it but nobody waits").

Then there's the aforementioned '(I'm In Love With Your) Girlfriend" which vies with 'Reptile' for best song on the album. Burke declares not only his love for your girlfriend (adding a casual "she likes me too"), but also your sister ("I took her home"), while simultaneously goading you ("Tell me/ What do you plan to do?") - but having written a tune this good he could probably still have a fair crack at seducing you too.

The album isn't without blemish. 'Caroline' and 'Love You More' are fairly unremarkable and the band seem to revert to their comfort zone a little for the stretch of the album from 'Nobody's Fool' to 'She Said' - which isn't to say they're bad songs, just that they lack that extra something special prevalent in the best songs on the album. Closer 'Know Yourself', however, leaves the album on a positive note with the band sounding like they've thrown caution to the wind and, by eschewing the calculated approach, produced an understated gem.

The album is produced to a sheen by Kapranos, whose production work previously impressed on The Cribs' Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever. Where certain bands sound smothered by excessive production (the recent Alabama Shakes album, for example, could have done with being a bit more rough 'n' ready), it sounds appropriate with Citizens! This is unashamedly a pop album, and if some songs sound well-crafted rather than instinctive then what does that matter? They're still great songs. As they themselves have been quoted as saying: "Pop is not a dirty word. It's a holy one". Here We Are is an accomplished debut - a little more Django Djang-style experimentalism on album number two and they could be even better.

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