The exclamation mark is deliberate. It sets them apart from another band, named simply ‘Citizens’. Can you imagine how pissed off that other band are, especially when they discover that this new band are immeasurably better? What has us really perplexed is why they simply stuck an exclamation mark on the end to differentiate themselves, when selecting an entirely new name would have been so much better. After all, it’s actually a rather shitty moniker for a band, exclamation mark or no exclamation mark. Sure we are all citizens, but by speaking to all of us they in fact to speak to none of us with such a boring band name. If we were marking this essay, then we’d have to scribble ‘must try harder’ in red ink all over the title.
However, we must consider the time-tested cliches about judging books by covers and roses by other names, for beyond the band Citizens! title we find a band delivering content so damn memorable that you’ll be humming the lead single long after you’ve forgotten who created it. Before we wade into the excellent music we confess to having one final gripe that strikes at the same creative flaws, because the debut single sadly falls upon the same unoriginal swords. We hate to hit them back with an exclamation mark of our own, but True Romance is a song title that’s been used by at least half a dozen other bands! What happened there lads? Of all the song names! We’re surprised they didn’t try and put an exclamation mark on the track too. What’s the next song going to be called? One Love perhaps? Maybe Freedom, or Hold On, or Yesterday? There you go boys, perhaps go all the way and make an album of entirely unoriginal titles, making it something of an ironic statement.
What flies in the face of all this is that the London five-piece are clearly not short of creativity, imagination and talent. One listen to True Romance and you’ll be swimming in delight. The first tentative steps into the cool water begin with a toy-like piano refrain and a standalone snare. The temperature warms up once your in at knee height, as the buzz of a synth slaps the surface before Tom Burke’s vocals join you. Soon enough your testicles feel the lift as the layers continue to fill the song up, but it’s made of such remarkable fizz that at the point of saturation it remains weightless. It’s melodic and uplifting, and by the two and half minute mark you’re fully acclimatised as it bubbles all around you in the kind of excellent pop style more familiar with Bowie at his most playful, or more recently with the smooth pop craft found on a Wave Machines single. It’s no wonder Kitsune have included that first tune on their recent 12th compilation and signed them to their label.
They’ve been supporting The Rapture on recent tour dates and have more live shows planned throughout Europe over the winter. We imagine their heady concoction of pop potions is an absolute scream live, with up tempo pop and a hook-filled chocolate box. No doubt it’s a lesson transferred from the producer of the debut album, which we are told is due out in 2012. None other than Franz Ferdinand‘s Alex Kapranos has been on hand in the studio with them, which goes some way to explaining the haughty sexual frisson and audacious pop hooks. He must be like nitrogen to anyone’s creativity and in all honesty Alex probably comes with his own exclamation mark. What he’s drawn out of the five lads is a band designed for radio plays and broad appeal, without the need for artistic compromise.
The sexually-charged track Girlfriend races along at a faster pace, bursting out of the blocks like a porn star that’s just been re-employed. Burke sings “I always want the things I can’t have“, which may go some way to explaining the conventional band and song titles – they had simply wanted them, and the fact that other people already had them isn’t going to make them change course. Once again the vocals are a particularly outstanding element, with Burke providing style and confidence in all the right places. With contagious pop as energetic as this anything less would be drowned out by the high-octane synths and pumped basslines. Burke always falls the right side of camp to provide a punch alongside the theatre, even holding the song entirely alone mid-way through, but by it’s close he still stands just as tall as the crescendo of layers he’s competing with. Together this band combine to make a dangerous team with the fuel tank on full. OK, so the band name may well be forgetful, but the music is anything but. (MB)
CITIZENS! – TRUE ROMANCE
CITIZENS! – GIRLFRIEND