Have you ever heard about the Citizens!? The British band, I mean, not the online bank. I probably never would have if not for a concert that I went to in September 2015. They were the opening band and caught my attention right from the first melody.
As they were not the focus of the concert (I was there to see Mika), I made a mental note while I listened to them to check their songs properly another day, but would probably have forgotten about it eventually. Except that something happened. After Mika’s concert, I was on my way to leave when I noticed a commotion in the main hall. The opening band, Citizens!, was there to talk to fans, all four of them: Tom Burke, Thom Rhoades, Lawrence Diamond and Mike Evans.
I talked only to Lawrence, more out of curiosity than any other thing. I had never talked to a foreign musician. Of course, my journalistic instinct kicked in and before I realized it, I was interviewing him. By the time I caught myself and started to apologize for it, he waved my apologies away. We were already talking as old friends.
He told me how the band started a long time ago, when they were college friends who wanted to make music for a living. The band’s name changed to Citizens! in 2010, and since then they had launched two albums. We talked about working with what you really love, and how both our choices were hard; music because there’s too much of it in the world, and it is a real struggle to make your own known, and writing, in my case, because journalists are hardly well payed, and books – well, there’s too much of it in the world too. A bond was forged on an understanding only known by artists.
The talk extended further than I expected. I thought he would be arrogant, maybe, but he was actually very nice, very talkative and full of intriguing ideas. We even talked about politics – Lawrence’s topic of study in college. I returned home with a smile that night, and woke up the next day with one too. Turns out musicians can be nice and interesting.
Now the practical part. It took a while, but I finally took the moment to listen to their songs from a critical point of view (or as critical as I can be, since I am not really an expert). I don’t understand enough about music genres to specify which the band belongs to (according to Wikipedia, they cruise through indie rock, synthpop, indie pop, alternative dance and indietronica), but I can tell you that for a pop / rock / indie lover like me, their sound is surely pleasant.
My favorite songs from the new album, European Soul, are Lighten Up, European Girl, Are you Ready and Brick Wall, the latter being the one that affects me the most. It talks about restlessness (anxiety, even). “It’s never been enough to live and breathe just like the rest of us,” Mike sings, and I am forced to admit that no, it was never enough. I always needed the dreams, the stories, the writing. The hope. Then he pretty much describes me when he sings: “You’ve been banging your head against the wall, trying to let the light in, trying to make the rain fall.” I never banged by head against the wall, but I understand the feeling. Needing the hope when fighting to make things happen while creating (or dealing with pre-existing) drama to bring the important emotions to surface.
I have a favorite from their debut album, Here We Are, too: True Romance. I know, it’s cliché of me to have as favorite their most famous song, but well, what can I do about it. I decided to put this song as a sample of their work at the beginning of this post because I figured it’s the one you’ll probably be familiarized with, or if you’re not, then it’s one that might motivate you too look into the other ones.
So, I ask again: have you ever heard about the Citizens!? I hope you have. If you haven’t, listen to it now. If you like the same music as I do, you probably won’t regret it.
To know more about the band, access their official site: http://www.citizenscitizens.com.