Live: Citizen – The Bodega, Nottingham 4/10/17

Opening up to a tiny yet packed Bodega was Honey Lung, London natives with a serious sound. Frontman Jamie Batten led the grunge-shoegaze four-piece out on stage and it was clear the band was inexperienced, yet they just had the star quality that’ll get them a long way in time to come.

Guitarist Charlie Gardner, bassist Dave Sherry and drummer Omri Covo all back up Batten immaculately but the show is all about him. His understated stage presence combined with his vocals and lead parts show he is an all-rounder and the real deal. The young band played through tracks from their debut EP Kind of Alone as well as newer singles Stuttering Mind and finishing up on Sophomore; they showed the Nottingham crowd exactly what they’re about. [7/10]

See them playing Sophomore on Reading Festival’s BBC Introducing stage this summer:

By the time Citizen hit the stage, the small attic room was already unbearably hot – the subject of many comments throughout the set. Opening with Jet from their new album, vocalist Mat Kerekes wasn’t planning on hanging about for introductions. Within minutes, the first crowdsurfers had emerged atop the energetic pit in front of the stage, and it only got more lively from then on in.

The whole set was very reflective in nature: not only did the band comment on the length they’ve been together producing music and on how As You Please is the best album they have made during that time, but nearly half their time onstage was spent playing tracks from their 2013 debut album Youth including Sleep, Roam The Room and How Does It Feel. To the (rather vocal) dismay of a couple of audience members 2015 track Stain did not feature, though their persistence in suggesting it earned them a well-deserved “f*** off” from guitarist Nick Hamm.

Closing the main body of their set with The Summer was a fantastic decision for the crowd participation. The heat in the room had already got sweat dripping from the ceiling and had received many comments from band and audience alike, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the singalong that ensued. The fan favourite track had crowdsurfers, stagedivers, fingerpointers and mic-grabbers all going for it to bring the night to a close as Citizen went to leave the stage. They never quite made it off the small plinth though – they lingered on stage right in full view to have a chat about what they were going to play for the “one more song” the crowd wanted so badly. They came back with As You Please closer Flowerchild to finish off a stellar set in style.

Very exciting band in terms of their new album and their stage show at the moment; if you’re not aware of Citizen yet then get on it with this album cycle, you won’t regret it. [9/10]

See In The Middle of It All from their new album As You Please below; the album is due out Friday:

citizen as you please

Citizen – As You Please

Citizen have been selling their album at a few tour dates in the UK ahead of it’s release this Friday (6th October) so a few people have heard it – not to mention the fact it leaked a week ago, as guitarist Nick Hamm told the Nottingham crowd on Wednesday.

The fact it’s leaked didn’t curb the enthusiasm of the Michigan five-piece about their latest release however, and for very good reason. Kicking off with Jet (their current set-opener), As You Please gets off on just the right foot: hard-hit drums with relaxed verses climaxing in true Citizen style with both pushed and falsetto high vocals throughout the chorus. The song sounds like their traditional style yet a lot more mature – a natural progression from the band just starting out their recording career back in 2009.

The album varies hugely in style though, with In The Middle of It All bringing in synthesised vocals and the rest of the album sounding like a spectrum ranging between 2013’s Youth and 2015’s Everybody Is Going To Heaven seamlessly. The ending of the mentioned second track chops various tracks in the mix at varying intervals which creates a kind of faulty-record effect that is likely to confuse a lot of fans at first listen or during a half-listening session.

A lot of fans old and new are always interested in Eric’s bass tone – this album is just as phenomenal for that as both the others before it. The quality of it is hard to describe, but the crunchy (almost punky) tone underpinning the emo madness keeps Citizen in check both in the mix and live. Vocally too, Mat Kerekes smashes everything he touches. Whether it’s his cleaned up verses or the straining chorus pushes, he displays that he is the very best fit for the band’s style – whether that be crunchy like the debut, more shoegaze-influenced like the second or halfway between the two where As You Please sits.

The collection closes with Flowerchild which is also acting as one of their closing songs in shows now, featuring an acoustic guitar opening in the record version. By itself, the song shows off the talents of every single band member in their own style. The shift from acoustic to thrashing and loud to soft demonstrates everyone’s different styles, and Kerekes shines bright as a frontman as always. The final 30 seconds of the album being instrumental to play out the fantastically-written and performed fifty minutes of material before it is a fantastic decision that just leaves the listener to relax after the catharsis – the band has pushed out their point and left their audience to do just as they please.

Fast and angsty or slow and emotional, this is genuinely a stunning album that backs up Citizen‘s claims that As You Please is the strongest collection of work they have put out so far.