Pre-order Citizen's new album 'Life In Your Glass World' on limited galaxy blue and green swirl vinyl in the BrooklynVegan store.
Citizen are always changing things up, and they're often doing the unexpected. They hit the scene about a decade ago as a promising Title Fight-esque post-hardcore/emo/punk band, honing their sound over the course of two splits and an EP, before perfecting it on their instant-classic 2013 debut album Youth. Then, when it seemed like almost every band of their ilk was going shoegaze -- which parts of Youth did hint at -- Citizen went in the opposite direction, with the heavy Jesus Lizard/In Utero-inspired post-hardcore of 2015's Everybody Is Going to Heaven. They mellowed out a little on 2017's As You Please, and now, on their fourth album Life In Your Glass World, they're back with a new sound that pulls heavily from danceable early/mid 2000s post-punk bands like Bloc Party and Interpol. It's their most jarring shift since EIGTH, and it's some of their best music yet.
At this point, a handful of the major new wave of post-hardcore and emo revival bands that Citizen were associated with have gone on hiatus, and of the ones that are still kicking, nobody sounds like Citizen do in 2021. Having done all three of their previous albums with Will Yip, the band recorded this one themselves in frontman Mat Kerekes' garage, and Mat says these songs "were mostly built from drums and bass first," which they hadn't done before. Even if Mat didn't say it, you might guess it from listening to the dance-punk beats that fuel this record; not that Citizen ever had a weak rhythm section, but it's doing more of the heavy lifting on this album than ever. And the post-punk influence didn't stop there; once the rhythms influenced the direction of this album, Nick Hamm followed suit with punchy guitar riffs that recall the post-punk revival era, and Mat's percussive, flamboyant vocal hooks seal the deal. Certain parts sound like direct homages to the bands who brought post-punk to the mainstream 15-20 years ago, but they also haven't lost their post-hardcore edge one bit; if anything, this is a noticeably more aggressive record than As You Please. They end up sounding like an alternate version of the early/mid 2000s where the emo explosion and the post-punk revival were one and the same, and, impressively, they always sound unmistakably like Citizen.
Given the new sound, we were curious about what music influenced this album, so we asked them, and Nick made us a list of ten albums that inspired their songwriting this time around. There are some picks that you can definitely hear coming through (The Strokes, Gang of Four) and some others that might surprise you a little more (Purple Mountains, Portishead). Nick also spoke about how each album impacted the band, and you can read on for what he had to say...
10 ALBUMS THAT INFLUENCED CITIZEN'S LIFE IN YOUR GLASS WORLD (by Nick Hamm)
Protomartyr - Relatives In Descent
While this isn’t necessarily an obvious influence, this record was really important to me as we approached the tracking of this record. It accompanied me in a very odd period of life and it kind of set the tone for me, personally. This is one of my favorites from the past few years and it really hasn’t stopped getting regular play since it came out. Bonus for being out of Detroit.
Alex G - House of Sugar
If there’s anyone that really sets the bar in this general universe of music, it’s Alex. This LP is all at once natural and so electric. Another one that might not convert to tangible influence but his records are endless pools of inspiration. One of those records that all of us can unite around.
Spoon - They Want My Soul
Truly one of the best sounding LPs, at least as far as real polished records go. I’m not ultra versed in Spoon’s catalogue but doing this record ourselves, we referenced this one a lot while figuring out tones and whatnot. Still landed about a mile off, but it’s the journey, not the destination...
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Primary Colours
Ass beating Australian garage rock. A lesson in tight, simple songwriting. Something that is an immediate difference with this LP vs our previous.
Bright Eyes - The People’s Key
Everyone in Ciz is pretty on their own page, musically. Every once in a while, we find a great big overlap that can please everyone in the van. The People’s Key is that. The indifference that this record receives makes negative sense to me. I loved it right when it came out and I love it now and there’s several songs that I’m pretty constantly aspiring to match in tone. Perhaps “One For You, One For Me” would be that song for this specific new Ciz era.
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
Just love this record so much. Heartbreaking, but also fills my heart with joy in some weird way. The dynamic between these crushing lyrics with (some) brightness underneath is just exactly how I want to hear and play sad music. RIP David Berman and thank you for this’n.
Gang of Four - Entertainment!
Another one that can rock with anyone in the group. There’s really not much that need be said. An icon that’s really a blueprint for so much of the coolest rock music in existence these days. Still exciting and something I was listening to a lot around the time we tracked the LP. I wouldn’t say its influence is heard on the LP aside from maybe trying to get a guitar tone or something, but who cares.
Hostage Calm - Hostage Calm
Talk about a band that never got their due. This is one of my favorites and I think they executed this dancey sort of Clash worship in the coolest way. The lyricism, the musicianship. This was my bible when I was in high school and it’s just as good now, even if the production maybe dates it a bit, but I’ve always been attracted to the way it sounded oddly digital. One of those records that lives inside you forever once it clicks.
Portishead - Third
Yet another band that we agree on. This is my fav Portishead record and man... I reference it practically any time we make music, for tones or whatever else. I just love it and there’s a few tiny moments on the LP that we needed this record for guidance. We always talk about going “full Portishead” which sounds quite dope to me.
The Strokes - Is This It
Duh. I certainly wouldn’t say this record mostly resembles The Strokes out of all the 00’s NYC shit that is felt throughout the record, but it’s the band I like the most out of the bunch. "Edge of the World" is pure Strokes, without having that leather jacket vibe. Maybe next time we’ll squeeze Mat into one.
Life In Your Glass World comes out Friday (3/26) via Run For Cover. Pre-order it on limited galaxy blue and green swirl vinyl in the BrooklynVegan store and stream three tracks and watch another video from it below.
Pre-order Life In Your Glass World here.