In the past few weeks, every new thing to come out has pissed me off in ways I didn’t even believe possible. Northlane’s “Citizen” is a gasp of mediocre air. Especially given what a massive disappointment 2015’s “Node” was. The first single was great, and the rest of the record absolutely failed to deliver. The single was even re-mixed for the album and sounded considerably worse.
So almost 2 years later, we get “Citizen”. It opens very Northlane; guitars tuned down to drop god-knows-what. The band drops in seconds later. Big drums (though not as big as anything on Singularity). Crunchy bass. I’m digging this. Guitar tone is not my favorite, but that’s an insignificant detail in the long run.
The energy breaks down to a spacey guitar, distorted bass, groovy drums and a wide vocal. Marcus Bridge slips seamlessly from singing to screaming, which feels genuine, something we demand of Northlane. The chorus is big with a kind of poppy melody. It’s not their most adventurous work, but it is considerably better than the last album.
The second verse gives us some more familiar Northlane territory, a choppy breakdown that seems to jump out of the speakers. A slight ambient bridge brings us to an even bigger breakdown, and eventually back to the chorus. From a songwriting standpoint, I’d consider it better than average, but Northlane has given me better. If this is to be presented as a single, then it’s lack of hard turns is understandably tactful.
If the coming record (rumored for summer 2017) is more of this, then I will be far from disappointed. If the rest of the record slips back into droney Node territory then I will be forced to accept that the glory days of this band’s appeal to me are long gone. What a tragedy that people will spend their days blaming their lack of appeal on the departure of Adrian and not look deeper to find that the songwriting is at fault. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
*It seems that I missed the release of another single, “Intuition”, back in January. My opinions are similar on that song. It is much more energetic, but still missing a little of the youthful energy I loved about Singularity.