The Citizens Are We There Yet?

[Yellow Ball; 2004]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: indie rock, indie pop
Others: The Walkmen, 90 Day Men

As incredibly uninventive and awkward as The Citizens' Are We There Yet? album cover appears to be at first glance, plenty of unintentional stories and tales can be derived from its conception. Four young men dressed eloquently and fashionably in black overcoats and top hats, searching for what most would perceive as stardom or recognition. But the cover unfolds many other layers and simplifies The Citizens' explanation of its musical direction. Here are four men, standing on a highway facing you directly. What they are doing or thinking isn't the issue; it is where they are standing that projects a clearer image of the band. No one can see where they have come from in the picture and no one can see where they are going. This become the focal point of the record and ultimately explains the success of The Citizens' debut album, Are We There Yet?

In fact, the first question that comes to mind when you listen to The Citizens' debut album is "where did these guys come from?" New York, of course. The album is dripping with New York-style melodies and sentiment, but Are We There Yet? goes further than that. It encompasses a plethora of moods and passions that elevate this record to 'surprise' status and leaves the listener entirely gratified by its conclusion. Each song contains its own element of distinguished refrains, producing an eclectic combination of diverse musicianship. "A Thing For You" and "Catch You On The Way Down" pay homage to the garage revival still saturating New York's music scene, while "What's Happening At The Seams" is reminiscent to The Walkmen's unique musical formula.

But within the shadows of New York's finest performers, The Citizens have blended a poignant and fascinating, personal self-image of professional musicianship that elevates the band to unanticipated captivation. Just one listen to the bass infused "Mussolini's First Crush" explicates The Citizens' ability to mold and shape its songs to reflect a more personally distinct sound, even with the Robert Plant vocal style. In fact, the vocals on the entire record showcase the strength of the music of the band; persuasive, robust, passionate, resilient, melodic, etc. There is absolutely nothing that is gaudily wrong with Are We There Yet?, which poses perhaps the ultimate question: Are They There Yet? And How Did They Get There?

With the surprising effort of its debut album, The Citizens have paved an unexplainable road leading to the triumph of Are We There Yet? But the fact that this album conjures such positive emotions and sentiment, all we have to do as listeners is flip the album over and witness what may be potentially The Citizens' future: a long stretch of road ahead into stardom and success.

1. What's Happening At The Seams
2. A Thing For You
3. Blusher
4. Kaleidoscope (Do You Recall?)
5. Mussolini's First Crush
6. Catch You On The Way Down
7. Deck Full Of Jokers
8. In B For Backward
9. King Kong
10. You Might Be Right
11. Tell Me Something I Don't Know
12. Clementine
13. Are We There Yet?