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Citizens Here And Abroad
Ghosts Of Tables And Chairs
Omnibus Records
www.citizenshereandabroad.com


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 entire album.

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

Track Listing:

1. The Voices
2. Microphone
3. Appearances
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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