Hype and to be hyped – a noun and a verb used in today’s musical industry to describe an artist or group around which publicity has created a buzz, so often followed by a vacuum where delivery of the promised goods is lacking. A quick web search will prove Citzens! aren’t a gold medal example of hype, but if animated journalistic whisperings and some positive reviews count, the band would certainly be in the running for bronze.
But what becomes of these artists, like Citizens!, who occupy this middle ground of hype, where their material is ‘good’ yet not ‘groundbreaking’, but nor is it destined for bargain bins like The Twang or The Paddingtons? The template of more recent Kitsuné label bands probably renders Citizens! with a promising, festival-dotted career ahead of them. But if Here We Are is destined for ‘good’ on its reports, they’ll need more that separates them from bands like Two Door Cinema Club, The Whip and Delphic if they are to match the stars of the label who’ve graduated and proved their inherent, lasting quality.
Here We Are certainly proves to be packed full of contagious ditties and an attractive brand of ‘70s-cum-noughties indie pop. Justification for the nudged elbows and raised eyebrows they’ve created first surfaces two thirds of the way through True Romance – a track full of David Bowie leanings with a carousel twist where a saxophone squelches its way into the theatricisms and a witty take on how you know when ‘the one’ is actually ‘the one’.
Travelling funfair meets Franz Ferdinand with recent single, Reptile – unsurprising as Alex Kapranos produced Here We Are. And although some of the witty-tongued lyrics, jagged riffs and jaunty rhythms have rubbed off on the London quintet, this and the rest of the album does suffer from overfamiliarity, rendering its breakdowns a little formulaic. Caroline is another adept pop tune, peppered with a sing-a-long chorus that belts: “We start making sense.” It does make sense; it makes perfect sense. But it also sounds like one of the latter tracks from The Killers’ Hot Fuss, at which point there’s a sense of a theme developing across the album.
Around the half way point, Tom Burke begins to inject more than just a modicum of lust into the tracks, playing parts that range from knight in shining armour to walking testosterone junkie. The carnival percussion of Love You More takes on the former guise, while I Wouldn’t Want To acts as a book-end for the more risqué subject matter that follows in between the two, with its reflective, nostalgic and even apologetic ABBA-esque tale of losing love.
Let’s Go All The Way is the highlight of the mix, starting like a curtain call on a Webber production. Burke becomes mixed-up seducer, walking a tightrope between Hayden Thorpe’s guilt-infused words on Wild Beasts’ Smother and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. A touch of Franz’s humour and camp-kraut returns with the lust-drunk (I’m In Love With Your) Girlfriend; theatrical and characterful, his control on his hormones lessens until the album dives into the guilt-tinged ‘70s funk of Monster. Meanwhile, the piano flurries and indie-disco-pop of She Said that seems to detail past conquests makes for interesting prose, even if not for a likeable storyteller.
Essentially, there isn’t a bad track on Here We Are. But the band will now need to do some convincing to progress upon what’s already been written about them. The problem is, we’ve only recently emerged from almost a decade of witty indie-pop and there’s a queue of similar bands – even on Kitsuné alone – yet to cement their mettle with some real depth of quality. Witty and blessed with deftness Citizens! may well be, but we’re still a bit bilious from our musical diet during the noughties to thoroughly appreciate it.