From the moment I put this disc in my player, I knew I was
going to have problems with it. Citizens Here and Abroad's
debut, Ghosts Of Tables And Chairs, is precisely the
kind of album that I, as an indie rock fan, am supposed to adore.
It's chock-full of all the right sensitive, co-ed, shoegazer
influences: Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, a bit of
Belle and Sebastian, even. The problem lies in the fact
that, while it is pretty, it doesn't really go anywhere. It's
like bad sex: you keep waiting for the climax, but it never
comes. Perhaps this impression comes from the pale vocals-beautifully
blended, but overall thin and lifeless. I've never been able
to get into that breathy, noncommittal sound, which makes it
very difficult for me to commit to it myself.
So, in an attempt at objectivity, I listened to the album twenty
times in a row to see if it would grow on me. Happily, parts
of it did. "Appearances" has a great hook and slightly
more verve than the average track. "Count Each One"
has a beautiful build (unfortunately it plateaus into a pleasantly
numb gallop, but at least it HAS a build). "Your Own Hand"
sounds like a wonderful Joy Division cover, which is
a welcome variation to the theme. And overall, the album is
consistently and masterfully produced. The thing that is still
irritating after several listens, though, is this: there's a
fine line between continuity and redundancy, between subtlety
and placidity, and the Citizens ride that line throughout the
entire album. Forget I said that. They cross back and forth
over that line so often that it's just a blur throughout the
And another thing-it's a little too neat and tidy. I always
get a bit antsy when an album so thoroughly fits into a scene
like this. They just have that definite Pacific Northwest indie
flavor. What label are they signed to? Barsuk? Sub Pop? Hush?
Jade Tree? Oh, that's right: Omnibus Records. Same difference.
Actually, I have a deep respect for those labels - and most
of the bands signed to them - but the general idea is for the
labels to find bands that fit their sound, as opposed to bands
tailor-making their sound to fit on a particular label. But
hey, the music is pretty, so who cares.
Are you confused? Has this review wavered between admiration
and sarcastic criticism? Well don't blame me. The music's the
one sitting on the fence; I just followed it here.
- Emily Strong
1. The Voices
4. Enter the Elevator
5. Count Each One
6. Change of Scene
7. They Stay
8. Your Own Hand
9. In-Flight Movie
10. You Drive and We'll Listen To Music
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