Album Reviews

The Citizens – Lightheaded EP

(Yellow Ball) UK release date: 4 January 2010

Three and a half years on from their last full-length album Cro-Magnon Drift, the New York quintet return with an EP of songs boasting influences from Fleetwood Mac to XTC as their sound drifts closer to the ghost of the early ’80s.

Opening track Lost in the Light is a familiar example of the blissed out psychedlia they peddle so well. Its follow-up, The Woman on the Radio, is more angular, channelling a sound reminiscent of punk’s progression to art pop – something Talking Heads might have come up with after travelling into the future and listening to too much Arcade Fire.

Such art pop is where the remainder of the record beds in, with middle offering Walking on Frozen Water blending subtle harmonies with the kind of electronics once heard on Duran Duran side-project Arcadia. The result is something different enough from their previous fare to mark a progression while remaining true to the style that’s worked for them before.

They save the best track until nearly last. On the darkly blissed out You and I On the Roof, both the bass line and the tempo threaten to lull you into a winter midnight sleep, while a fractured guitar runs its fingers along your strung-out nerves. If you like your music razor raw one moment and exploding into life the next, this is the place to get your fix.

Final Track You Are Here brings back the old summer sunshine, dripping with the kind of warmth that reminds you of a great big cuddle in a flower-filled meadow. The juxtaposition of these last two songs should act as a reminder why it’s sometimes still good to listen to albums in their entirely, not just as random tracks on shuffle.

Producing a total of five new tunes in nearly as many years may not seem like a Herculean effort, but with the music industry freed of the constraints of how much music can be held by groves on slabs of vinyl, quality rather than quantity can – and should – be allowed to rule the day. It’s a welcome return.

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More on The Citizens
The Citizens – Lightheaded EP
The Citizens – Post Cro-Magnon Drift