Album Reviews

The Citizens – Post Cro-Magnon Drift

(Yellow Ball Records) UK release date: 31 July 2006

If you haven’t heard of The Citizens already, it’s about time you did. Positioned musically somewhere between a proggier Brian Jonestown Massacre and a more psychedelic Mekons, their new album Post Cro-Magnon Drift is a true gem, undiscovered and waiting to be unearthed.

As The Citizens are New York-based, housed on the tiny Yellow Ball Records label, and their previous album – 2004’s Are We There Yet? – seems impossible to track down in the UK, you may be asking how musicOMH has managed to discover them. This would be down to the admirable efforts at self-promotion of Citizens’ guitarist Thom Loubet, scouring websites and matching up press copies with reviewers who’ve looked favourably on similar sounds (in the case of this reviewer, The Decemberists) and buttering them up – although believe me, there’s no need to when the music is this good.

There are plenty of traces of the utterly fantabulous Decemberists in here, most notably on the whimsical folk-pop of A Makeshift Militia and Meat of the Major’s Mind, the former of which in particular conjures up images of The Seekers filtered through early Pink Floyd, but listen carefully and elsewhere on the record you’ll also find aural nods to Love (18 Dover) and plenty of dreamy West Coast psychedelia, particularly on opener The Surfer, where frontman Mark Lesseraux begins by innocently singing of California girls before transmogrifying into a madly chaotic soundtrack fit to backdrop a nightclub imagined by Angela Carter. This segues into the following track, Domingo Hersch and His Internal Flying Circus (see what I mean?), with perfect stoner lyrics ‘Was there something I was meant to remember/Something I was meant to forget?’

Elsewhere, you’ll find songs dedicated to the death of James Dean (September 30th, 1955), Gary Numan covers (I Dream of Wires) and trancey, trip-hop, aboriginal soundscapes (Apache Strobe Light) interspersed with spiky new wave guitars (The Creator). Their Numan cover is particularly superb, slowed down and given a bassier, warmer, Middle Eastern flavour – chill-out music for a lost Arabian Night at a secret desert rave.

It’s catchy, hugely listenable and great summer music, so make sure you make the best of it while the sunshine lasts. In fact, there’s so much else to say about it there’s hardly need to mention the lovely touch of breaking the track listing in two on the sleeve notes, as if this was a proper record (so much more substantial than your new-fangled CD/MP3 nonsense) but I’m going to anyway, because these sort of things make me happy and show that there’s just that little bit more thought going into all this than usual.

All of the above is such a relief, because Thom seems like a truly lovely bloke in his emails and handwritten post-it notes, and it would have been a terrible guilt trip to have to say his album was awful, or even mediocre. But it’s not – it really is something special and if your local record shop isn’t stocking it, hit them over the head with a big stick until they do. Luckily, these days there’s always the internet to make sure you don’t need to worry about that sort of thing. So go order it – NOW! What on Earth are you waiting for?

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