It’s no secret that I’m a fan of pop music. I remember back in the 90’s, during the grunge era, when “pop” became a dirty word, and the only way to actually get any sort of cred was to rock out. And though it is often sullied by a too-cool-for-school irony, I’m pleased that the current “indie” movement that the cool kids are into has embraced the pop music idiom.
One band that has dived head-first into pop-style music without any shame or irony is London’s Citizens! On their recent release, “Here We Are,” they play ’80s-style synth-pop, a la Pet Shop Boys or New Order. However, they aren’t merely retreading old territory. While there is definitely a heavy mid-80s influence, Citizens! brings a modern sensibility to their sound. It’s as if the ’90s never happened, and the pop of the ’80s just kept evolving. This is Earth 2 pop music.
I imagine that it would be easy to compare Citizens! to other contemporary synth-pop acts like The Killers and “Oracular Spectacular” era MGMT. However, Citizens! seem less interested in fancy production than MGMT, and far less concerned with sounding like an artefact of the ’80s than The Killers. However, especially on tracks such as the catchy “True Romance,” the dance-poppy “Reptile,” and the ominous “Let’s Go All the Way,” it’s a fairly obvious comparison. And on “I’m in Love with Your Girlfriend,” they sound even more ’80s than the aforementioned bands, but on tracks like “Nobody’s Fool” and “Monster,” they’re really doing their own thing, defying comparisons to what has come before.
Overall, Citizens! is a solid, no-filler album of sincere synth-pop, which is a welcome change from a lot of the disingenuous pop music that seems to get a lot of play on the indie stations.