Midwest alternative band Citizen is back with their first full-length release in four years, and this one was worth the wait. Formed in 2009, Citizen has been kicking around the emo music scene for over a decade now. Their angsty debut Youth acquired a cult fanbase during Tumblr’s heyday, but the band has been struggling to find their voice in their hit-and-miss releases since then. Life in Your Glass World, while true to Citizen’s emo roots, represents a departure from their satisfyingly bleak and dismal sound. This album is the band’s mosh-ready antidote to a decidedly un-mosh-ready year, and it’s exactly what we needed.
Despite the lag-time since Citizen’s last album, As You Please, frontman Mat Kerekes has been rather prolific over the past few years. Kerekes has put out several albums, each as a solo artist and with indie-rock project The Flats. Maybe it was this non-stop honing of his skills that’s brought a newfound maturity and confidence to Life in Your Glass World. Ironically, despite sounding more polished than much of their prior work, LIYGW was recorded and produced at a DIY studio in Mat’s garage.
LIYGW hits the ground running – sprinting, even – with blood-pumping opener ‘Death Dance Approximately’. This drum-heavy track sets the tone for the rest of the album. While the tracklist smartly combines similarly fast-paced songs (‘I Want to Kill You,’ ‘Pedestal’) with pared-down, melodic picks like ‘Thin Air’ and ‘Glass World,’ Life in Your Glass World is built on rhythm.
Tracks like ‘Blue Sunday,’ a fuzzy, soft-but-textured track, remind us that the angst-riddled lyrics we’ve come to know and love from Citizen are alive and well, “And as your body takes shape/I draw your shadow in my room/I got a lot to take in and nowhere to begin.” This is contrasted with the likes of ‘Black and Red,’ whose tireless percussion and angry-yet-oddly-innocuous lyrics bring a new energy to the band, and it’s exciting to see.
Life in Your Glass World sees Citizen finding their footing in the changing ( not dying) punk scene. The result is perhaps the most balanced, commercially-appealing release the band has produced thus far. Life in Your Glass World is borderline fun, something early Citizen fans might not believe if you’d told them back in the 2010s.
LIYGW does not represent anything new for the genre – while it’s a new sound for the band, it’s nothing overly ground-breaking or experimental. That said, Life in Your Glass shows that, ten years into their career, Citizen’s still open to growth and change.