2012 has been a little quiet on the UK hardcore front. There were some excellent releases last year – with Shapes’ ‘Monotony Chic’ and The Computers’ ‘This Is The Computers’ becoming two of my favourite noisy albums of the last few years. However, nothing has really stood out this year, at least not to this bored reviewer. However, the debut album from Glasgow trio Citizens – titled ‘CTZNS’ – arrived in my inbox this week, and all of a sudden I was bored no longer.

Having released two well-received EPs – including the formidable ‘Try Harder’ EP – and built up a rather respectable live reputation, one might have expected Citizens to take their time constructing their first full length. WRONG. ‘CTZNS’ was recorded in a single day, live! Yet, the production quality is remarkably fine, especially considering the erratic and heavy nature of the music. For this we must surely commend the engineer and studio (Bruce Rintoul and Lofi Studio, Glasgow), as well as the impressive tightness of the trio’s instrumentation.

Citizens make hectic, progressive hardcore – with experimental time signatures, frantic riffing, emotive and throaty vocals, and punk rock pacing. There are snippets of post hardcore in the more melodic or jangly segments of ‘CTZNS’, such as the first half of ‘Heavy Breather’ (before the punishing, sludgy riff and earthy vocals of the final stretch) or the mid section of the sprawling epic that is closer ‘Distance Blues’.

However, for the most part, this is aggressive hardcore punk with math-rock noodlings. Take the 49 second track ‘New Punks’, which despite its short, sharp punk structure, still manages to fit in some jumpy off-kilter guitars. Some of Craig McIntyre’s guitar work is thrilling, such as on the instrumental ‘Hats Off To Phil Differ’ and the glorious, slow burning opener ‘Habitual Smoker Blues’. Previous single ‘Try Harder’ (from the EP of the same name) reappears here, and is perhaps the track that best showcases what Citizens are all about – slow, chunky riffs and ear-splitting screams that evolve into stabbing, proggy playfulness, bouncing alongside Owen Batchelor’s grumbling bass, before a heavy riff mean enough to slay and bury an emo kid dominates the rest of the song. It’s all very Pulled Apart By Horses (before they moved into more alt-rock territory). 

The fact that ‘Woollen Mammoth’ is the album highlight is unmistakable. The quick-fire, stop-start riffing and monumental shifts in structure encapsulate all the best trademarks of post hardcore, progressive hardcore, mathcore – hell, it’s HARDCORE to its…core. Citizens are the best new UK (post) (progressive) hardcore outfit to emerge in 2012, hands down. Their music manages to be intelligent yet accessible, and as heavy as a blissful head-butt in a punk rock mosh pit. SUPPORT!  

Citizens // Buy 'CTZNS' / You can catch Citizens on their European tour throughout October/November, get involved!