Artist Interview: Citizen Talks Their Organic and Catchy New Album Life In Your Glass World
Posted: by The Editor
For those familiar with Toledo, Ohio, trio Citizen’s previous albums—Young States (2011), Youth (2013), Everybody Is Going to Heaven (2015), and As You Please (2017)—hearing the first notes of opener “Death Dance Approximately” on new album Life in Your Glass World is something of a culture shock.
Opening with a bass- and drum-heavy, dancey beat that sounds plucked straight out of the early aughts, the track primes the pump for what’s to come: a pulsating, hook-filled, balanced collection of songs. By the end of the 11 tracks, one thing becomes abundantly clear: this is life in Citizen’s world, on their terms and their terms alone.
A decade into their existence, Citizen—vocalist Mat Kerekes, guitarist Nick Hamm, and bassist Eric Hamm—were ready to reclaim control over their creative process, their music, and their place in the industry while also fighting against the creeping threat of being on autopilot. In the true spirit of DIY, Kerekes built a studio in his garage to record Life in Your Glass World.
After three records with producer Will Yip, whom Kerekes calls “a great friend,” the band was ready to go it alone. Rather than becoming unmoored or doubtful about managing the songwriting and recording themselves, it “felt great,” Kerekes told me. “If it felt right, we went with it. If it didn’t, we scrapped it or changed it. The record feels very organic to me.”
It’s also fun as hell, a back-to-basics approach that saw the trio reduce their use of layering, harmonies, multiple “parts,” and trying to create a lot of dynamic. “We realized, with a lot of our favorite bands, if the songs are big…they sound big,” Kerekes said. “There’s no trying to be artsy, there’s none of that. The record is fun and feels good.”
They were also inspired by the rawness of “really aggressive, looping songs,” a la The Faint or MGMT. “You can take a dance beat, throw a fun and catchy guitar or bassline over it, and just play it over and over and it feels really good,” Kerekes said. Only two songs on the album—“Thin Air” and “Winter Buds”—were written with guitar first.
That pulsing rhythm drives the entire album, starting at the top of a peak with “Death Dance Approximately” before somehow climbing even higher on tracks like single “I Want to Kill You” and “Black and Red.” The trio pump the brakes only occasionally on tracks like “Blue Sunday” and dreamy, atmospheric ender “Edge of the World.” (The latter may also be the album’s best song.) But the result is a perfectly sequenced album you’ll find yourself listening to on a loop.
Michelle Bruton | @michellebruton
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