Citizen has been in the ears of the midwest DIY scene since 2009 and have remained a staple with their two full-length releases: Youth, and Everybody is Going to Heaven. These two LPs blend emo-pop, indie-rock and post-hardcore into cohesive pieces of music, doing so by writing songs that shift from gentle vocals and instrumentals into a loud, quick release of built up tension. They feel like boiling anger and disappointment, like the moment you cry after holding it in for too long. Their most recent and third LP, As You Please, sounds less explosive, and more sullen.
As You Please feels close to frontman Mat Kerekes’s solo project. Kerekes released his Luna and the Wild Blue Everything album in 2016. Contrasting Citizen’s varying sounds, Kerekes makes music that is heavily laced with sweet melodic emotions and cooing instrumentals. As You Please seems to adopt this emo behavioral pattern, while still maintaining Citizen’s more tumultuous identity.
As You Please was produced by Will Yip (Title Fight, Balance and Composure), who has worked with Citizen before, but on this specific LP his prodigious skill lends itself to a cleaner, tighter sound than ever before. Every note played can be distinctly heard without becoming washed away in the sounds that surround it. Even if emo-pop and post-hardcore are not typical genres, As You Please deserves a chance, if solely because of its beautiful production quality.
The album begins with “Jets,” and Kerekes’s voice sounds distressed and isolated. “I am keeping close / Close to nothing,” he says, with a self-reflective and complacent tone that seeps into the rest of the album, with hints of betrayal.
The title track, “As You Please,” encompassed the stagnant and depressing mood that travels through each song. It presents itself with slow, hypnotic drum fills, elongated guitar strums and haunting vocals. “Come as you please, as you want / I’m needing something to fill in the void,” exploring the human need for accompaniment, this fear of going through it alone. The song moves into the feeling of dependency: “Drown in my veins and I am yours forever,” calls to the toxic attachment people can lose themselves in. The song leaves off with only the sound of drums, then silence.
The rest of the LP situates itself comfortably into the feelings introduced by the first and third track: Common, strong emotions felt in the human experience of change. Each song recreates what it feels like to be walking in the purple moonlight at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday at the tail-end of a Michigan snow storm. Everything around and inside of you starts to freeze into a numbing spell that makes you feel stagnant.
“Flowerchild,” the final track, melts the album together. It starts with gentle vocals paired with an acoustic guitar and moves into a strong release of hard drums and a loud cry of the chorus: “Threading the skin / I am at fault for you / Keeping me in / Faith in an empty room.” The song effortlessly transitions back into a more delicate sound, only to abruptly move into a chaotic cry for help once more. As You Please is the balanced epitome of the duality of Citizen’s harsh exterior and soft identity. The album’s emotional pull, with diverse sounds and advanced production, show that Citizen has found their true voice.