Written by Jennifer Moglia
Alternative-Emo favorites Citizen are finally back with a new album for the first time in four years! The Ohio-based band’s highly-anticipated fourth full-length, “Life in Your Glass World”, was released on March 26th, 2021, and it certainly did not disappoint.
Since forming in 2009, the band had released three LPs, 2013’s groundbreaking debut “Youth”, 2015’s fan-favorite follow-up “Everyone is Going to Heaven”, and their most recent album, 2017’s “As You Please.” This new record was preceded by three singles, “I Want to Kill You”, “Blue Sunday”, and “Black and Red”, before it was released in full just over a week ago.
As soon as the chorus of the first track, “Death Dance Approximately” kicks in, it’s evident that this is the band’s best work to date. Each lyric coming from vocalist Mat Kerekes is filled with passion and the swinging guitars complement his voice perfectly; it’s beyond unfair that it isn’t safe for Citizen to play this song live for a crowd right now.
Track two, the high-energy “I Want to Kill You”, also served as the lead single for the record and accompanied the announcement of its release date. This instrumentation is incredibly upbeat, especially for Citizen, while the lyrics explore exhaustion and the pressure to please others, even when you know they wouldn’t do the same for you; our full review of this song can be found here!
The next song, and, coincidentally, the next single that would be released, is the chilled-out “Blue Sunday.” This track is a lot slower sonically and sees Kerekes’ voice take on a smoother, softer form, rather than the aggressive, attacking vocals of the previous two songs.
“Thin Air” sounds exactly how the title does; airy, dreamy, and light. Lyrically, this is probably the closest thing that we’ll get to a love song from this band at least for now, with lines like “I still see you in most everything”, but, not to worry, there’s still an adequate amount of angst being sung about here.
Up next is “Call Your Bluff”, with lyrical content focused around knowing someone’s secrets but choosing to keep them safe rather than expose them to the world. Driven by steady percussion, this is one of the many songs on this release that I think will eventually translate well to a live setting.
Booming drums fill the opening of “Pedestal”, before a catchy guitar riff comes in and is ultimately joined by Kerekes singing about what’s currently plaguing him mentally; “I woke up early this morning and I feel so strange / Well there is something inside of me, it's eating at my brain / I'll take some medicine for it and then I'll be okay / I will show you my faults / And then you'll shove it in my face.” This dark lyrical content is paired masterfully with a darker backing track, although there are some brighter, more twinkly moments in this song as well.
One of the more unique tracks on this LP, “Fight Beat” is lyrically reminiscent of songs like Boston Manor’s “If I Can’t Have It, No One Can” and all of “Fake Blood” by Heart Attack Man. It’s an interesting take on the “don’t fuck with me” song, opting for muted, lingering instrumentals, abrupt pauses of complete silence and softer vocal delivery to get the message of intimidation across, and it works absolutely perfectly.
The third and final single released from “Life in Your Glass World”, “Black and Red” feels very bright and danceable sonically while the lyrics explore some darker subject matter. This track sees Kerekes singing about someone who is damaged, but blames that damage for their selfishness and destructive behavior; the narrator is undoubtedly looking to expose this person for who they truly are, brought to life by lines like “You ain't a good friend / Got some dirt under your fingertips / Don’t care about a thing...When my hands peel back your skin / You should blame yourself for it” in the first verse as well as “When my hands are around your neck / You should blame yourself for it / I know you better than yourself...Do you blame someone else for your darkness?” in the pre-chorus and refrain.
Things slow down on “Glass World” a title track of sorts, where Kerekes’ softer vocals take center stage once again, accompanied by catchy percussion and guitars that feel like a warm hug. The titular lyrics,”If life in your glass world makes you feel so alone / Then why don’t you say so? / And I’ll meet you somewhere when the world turns dark and cold / If you would just say so” seem to find the narrator wondering why someone they care about won’t ask for help, and wishing that they could take them somewhere better, if they would just let it happen.
“Winter Buds” is another more chilled-out song, as minimal instrumentation is coupled with somber lyrics. It’s a welcome moment to breathe before the burst of energy that is the closer, titled “Edge of the World.”
This final song is the definition of “main character music”; even from the first few seconds, this song will make you feel like the protagonist of your very own coming-of-age film. The song builds and builds in the verses, and the payoff in the choruses, and eventually the ending, feels euphoric.
Lyrically, “Edge of the World” is about recognizing the struggles you’ve faced and the turmoil that you’ve been through (“Took a chance, took a swing and I missed / Late night and your heart hurts / I gotta get myself unstuck / Now it’s so much tougher than I thought it was...I was a symbol of hope / But I’ve been pushed a bit farther”), but knowing that you can overcome all of it and you’ll grow from the bad things that have happened to you (“I need to get my head straight / I need to stand a bit taller / Although I feel undone, I got so much to offer”). The record ends on an extremely hopeful note, as Kerekes tells the listener, “But at the end of the day, there is beauty in tragedy / I hope you find what you need / I hope it’s everlasting / I hope you learn to love yourself.”
As a whole, “Life in Your Glass World” is everything that fans could have hoped for from a new Citizen album. Their classic alternative sound has become more polished and cohesive, even in the moments when it strays from the band’s usual mold, and the emotional lyrical content we’ve come to know and love from them is certainly more mature, but remains just as striking.
Citizen’s new album “Life in Your Glass World” is available to stream wherever you listen to music; you can support the band by following them on Twitter @CitizenMi and picking up some merch including copies of the new record on vinyl and CD via Run For Cover Records as well as the band’s official webstore. Feel free to tweet us and let us know what you thought of the album @lgndsoftmrw!