David And The Citizens - Self Titled
David and the Citizens is everything you like about today’s crop of indie pop without any of the stuff you hate. Back home in Sweden, these guys aren’t even indie, per se, having been nominated twice for Best Pop Group in the Swedish Grammies, but having just found distribution here in America through Friendly Fire Recordings and are accordingly more or less unknown. That said, if you’re a fan of assorted vaguely folk and/or sixties influenced popsters like Belle and Sebastian, The Decemberists, The Format, The Shins, and pretty much everything else that girl down the street who wears giant sunglasses listens to, you need to experience this band. Founded by singer/songwriter David Fridlund, David and the Citizens deliver upbeat, catchy-but-not-cute pop rock laden with acoustic guitars, keys, trumpet, and the occasional harmonica, adding up to a sound that’s unique without being alienating, and fun without being immature. Interestingly, all of the songs are also in English that sounds like David could be from upstate New York (I’ve been told that European rock bands consider English the language of rock n’ roll, but I could be full of shit), making it easy to appreciate the straightforward but sophisticated songwriting of this EP. Though the CD is short--a mere six tracks, it is extremely engaging. The opening song, Graycoated Morning, is an energetic, acoustic-electric jam that, in addition to competing with the best of some third wave ska hooks for catchiness, serves as the perfect soundtrack to the coming spring.
Next up is the angrier, but nevertheless poppy and pleasing Now She Sleeps in a Box in the Good Soil of Denmark. Though significantly more low key than the record’s opener, this track retains The Citizens’ warm, moving sound. Both of the first two tracks sound like b-sides from The Decemberists’ Castaways and Cutouts, having been rejected for being too much fun. Next is a significantly more punk sounding song called Big Chills that seems to borrow certain sensibilities from that Canadian school of post punk that The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and The Paper Cranes all call home. The band drops a couple of instruments for this track, but it works, given its angry/fast sensibility. The fourth track sounds dangerously Shinsian, though this is not by any stretch of the imagination a bad thing; the song is simply less colorful than the listener has by this point come to expect. Following this is Summer is No-Man’s Land, a sixties bubble gum rocker featuring heavy rock n’ roll piano, blaring trumpets, a Johnny Cash style harmonica riff, and a pleasantly Beatlesy beat. In short, it is everything you could ask for. The (unfortunately) final track heads off in the direction of danceable power pop in a similar vein as The Format, and to a lesser extent, a less riff dependent Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. I say that it is unfortunate that this would be the final track only because it means the CD will soon be over, because the song itself is no less worthy of your attention than the other five. “Let’s Not Fall Apart,” begs the song’s title, and for our sake, I hope David and the Citizens keep rocking us for a long time to come. Let’s see what a full length has to offer.
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