Personnel: Ill Will (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Will Yip; Vince Ratti.
Recording information: Studio 4 Recording, Conshohocken, PA.
Midwestern indie rock outfit Citizen follow up their well-regarded 2012 debut Youth with Everybody Is Going to Heaven, a ten-song set that draws out their complexities and further distances them from their emo and pop-punk beginnings. With their members spread out between the two iconic Rust Belt cities of Detroit and Toledo, Citizen produce a sound as dark and brooding as a late-night drive down the I-75 corridor that separates their hometowns. As with their earlier releases, this record was produced by Will Yip who, earlier in 2015, made similar efforts to usher forward-thinking punk and hardcore-rooted bands into uncharted territory, most notably releases by Turnover and Title Fight. Like those bands, Citizen hope to reestablish themselves outside of a set of genres that can become quite suffocating in their criteria. Everybody Is Going to Heaven opens with "Cement," a sinister, sludge-riffed gem with a heavy groove that demands immediate attention. As compelling as it is difficult, it's a commanding opener that sets the tone for an album that is at times sinister, dissonant, and cathartic in a carefully controlled manner. Melodies often have to fight to the surface on tracks like the bottom-heavy "Stain" and "Ten," whose thundering guts-and-grunge approach is juxtaposed against more subdued, shoegaze-inspired songs like "Heaviside" and "Yellow Love." Much of the album feels fraught with tension, and on some of the heavier tracks it can become a little tedious and overwhelming. Citizen are at their best when pairing clever, hooky dissonance with bursts of strong melody, like on "Cement" and the excellent "Dive into My Sun." Everybody Is Going to Heaven is a bold statement full of creative ideas, but it's not without its growing pains. ~ Timothy Monger