Concert Review: Citizens! at El Rey Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)

Citizens! (London, England)
October 11th, 2012
El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

Citizens! are a five piece from London who just released their debut album Here We Are on Kitsuné. Their album was produced by the talented Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. Although it sounds a bit familiar, Citizens! have their own distinct sound. It’s pleasant dance-pop, but with an edge. They’ve been making a name for themselves around Europe and have just come to conquer the US. I was lucky enough to get a first glimpse of them live and hopefully, it won’t be the last time.

They opened with their catchy single “Caroline” and I was immediately taken aback. While I enjoy Here We Are, seeing Citizens! play in person absolutely brought their songs to life. They hopped onto the stage and immediately got into it. They danced around the entire time and still sounded perfect. Tom Burke’s voice is phenomenal live; somehow both soft and sharp at once. As they slid into “Reptile” (my personal favorite), you could see their weirder side begin to emerge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad weird. They’ve just got the creative genius angst lurking in the background of their music. “Let’s Go All The Way” almost sounded like a different song. It was more passionate and intense in a way that made the album version sound timid.

When they finally played “True Romance”, it quickly became apparent that this was the crowd pleaser. It’s the perfect single. The music video for the song was inspired by the couple photographed kissing in the Vancouver riots. That’s sort of the feel of the whole song, with both the lyrics and music creating a bittersweet yet optimistic tone. It keeps the listener around to hear how things end up.

For a dramatic finish, Citizens! busted out “(I’m In Love With Your) Girlfriend)”. This is a song with a heavy beat and a huge build up. Burke sings “I always want what I can’t have”  with more and more defiance as the song crescendos. When the curtain finally fell, I realized that I wasn’t ready for the end!

I do think that Citizens! is still in the process of establishing themselves and finding their niche, however, they’re on the right path. Here We Are does a good job of showcasing what they are capable of, and they definitely have a promising amount of talent. Hopefully they will be back soon!

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