With Citizen’s 2013 album, Youth, the Toledo-based band exploded into the fourth-wave emo scene, gaining a special place in many alt rock/emo fans’ hearts. With their recent, October 13, 2023 album Calling the Dogs, Citizen, like many other fourth-wave emo bands, hoped to push more into the pop direction. Unlike other post-COVID albums, Citizen’s attempt was substantially less successful, creating an album I can only describe as repetitive.

              I really wanted to like this album. As a huge proponent of fourth-wave emo, Citizen is a great band with many additions to my longer emo playlist. Despite this, Calling the Dogs disappointed me. After a few listens to the album, it has become obvious to me that Citizen had a sound they wanted the entire project to fall in line with. They absolutely succeeded at that, while making an album that is unremarkable in the face of prior successes. There is no discernably great song in this album.

              If you listen to one song and like it, you will like this entire album. If you find the repetitive, pop-punk style sound and lyrics to be your type of music, you will not be disappointed with this release. For me, someone who loves emotional lyrics present in previous Citizen albums, this whole album was meh at best. There is no emotion here. The lyrics are repetitive and cliché, the rhythms similar to the rhythms of the song before and after, and the vocal range is basically nonexistent. The musicality of this album is hard to find, buried under repetition and an overall unremarkable vibe. I don’t know if any song here leaves the same twenty beat-per-minute range, with none of the band’s former slow, emotional songs leaving a trace here. With their recent announcements declaring that the band is “one of the best rock bands around today,” it seems like the limited popularity, in the face of other fourth-wave emo successes, has gotten to their head. While their early projects showed a deep passion for their craft, Citizen’s release of Calling the Dogs is anything but. This release is a plastic, one-note album, with eleven nearly identical songs.

I was really hoping this album would be another Youth. It is not. I do recommend you go and give it a listen, maybe it’ll be a perfect album for you. For me, this album is just another emo-turned-pop release by a band that seems like they’ve lost most of their passion. I hope their next release is significantly better, maybe returning to their roots. That might seem hypocritical to my review of The Front Bottoms’ You Are Who You Hang Out With, but if anything it should be a testament to how unimpressive this album is.

Image Credits from: Run for Cover

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