Monday, April 2, 2007

baby, I couldn't see, but at least it was loud.

Army Of Me - Citizen.

Army Of Me is a DC-based indie-pop band who have been around for nearly ten years now. Citizen will be their very first full-length release. It hits stores next week, and these are my thoughts.

I've been listening to Army Of Me since late high school, ever since I asked a friend about an AOM pin on her bag. I went to a show and fell in love with the band's wispy, heartfelt songs immediately. Needless to say, after so many years of demos and EPs, this LP has been highy anticipated.

Citizen begins quietly with "Perfect." Right off the bat, Vince Scheuerman's voice is spot on. He's found a way to balance having a wavering voice and still being able to convey strong emotion.

The next song, "Going Through Changes," is the album's lead single. It's always been one of my favorite Army Of Me songs. Now, there are a lot of older songs on this CD, and some people might complain that they weren't rerecorded differently, but I am glad they didn't mess with them. I really think the songs are great the way they are. "Going Through Changes" has the classic AOM song structure - slower, wordy verses, and a swelling chorus that sucks you right in.

The next two songs, "Rise" and "Meet You At The Mouth" are newer songs, one from the Rise EP and one new to this album, respectively. Both display some beautifully dark lyricism that we haven't ever quite seen from Vince:

there's a time for laughing / theres a time for weeping / there's a time for sowing / there's a time for reaping / so on your knees now / up on your feet now / the words won't come out when you're trying to speak out

"Meet You At The Mouth" also features heavy guitars (heavy by AOM standards, that is), which makes for a nice change up in sound.

"Thinking It Over" is another pretty new track, one that kind of moves forward lazily while still remaining interesting.

"Better Run" includes a piano, the first time AOM has ever recorded one to my knowledge. Vince's voice has a different effect against the sounds of the piano versus the usual guitar. There's a nice slow buildup to the introduction of other instruments into the track. Honestly, it's one of the most powerful songs we've ever heard from this band. This is how power ballads should be done.

The energy then gets stepped up with "How Long." It's interesting to hear Army Of Me play such a fast-paced song. They're good at it, but they're still better at a slower tempo. Vince sounds like he's having to try very hard to keep up with the music. So, it's a good song, but not their best.

"Walking On" and "2 Into 1" are also tracks that are good but not great. There isn't really a lot to distinguish them from a lot of their other songs.

"Back To Business" works superbly as an album closer - it's just hopeful enough to leave you feeling good at the end of the record.

Overall, this is a very solid debut LP. It's good to finally hear a large chunk of new AOM music, instead of just getting a few songs every couple of years. I wish they would experiment a little more with the structure of their songs. I'm afraid if they don't, people may lose interest in them quickly, and they have potential to be an indiepop mainstay with some of these songs.

Standout Tracks: Meet You At The Mouth, Still Believe In You, Back To Business.

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