The last thing the world probably needs is another boy band, so tonight’s Kitsune club night — named after the famous French fashion and music label — at Neo Studio might be a tough sell. But Citizens! are a suave five-piece band from London who sound a lot more like David Bowie leading Phoenix than your typical pop group.
And pop is a broad term anyway, although John Lennon is probably turning in his grave knowing that the term today puts him in the same category as Rihanna or Lady Gaga. But Citizens! choose to look at it from a different perspective.
“We definitely call ourselves a pop band but in the same way that The Beach Boys, or The Cure, or The Flaming Lips were called pop bands,” said Citizens!’ frontman Tom Burke in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times.
POP IS A HOLY WORD
Burke thinks that people have become cynical and bored of pop music, and that they approach it with a lack of respect. “Pop has become this thing you don’t do, and it’s become a dirty word, ” he said. In fact, the band says pop is a “holy word.”
If the word Kitsune means nothing to you, besides fox in Japanese, they are a label behind Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party, Boys Noize, Digitalism and the list goes on. They picked up Citizens! after on hearing a few demo tracks. “We said to [Kitsune], ‘look we’ve never played a gig before and we don’t even have a band name’ and they said ‘we don’t care.’”
Burke explained that he once sat down for an interview with Kitsune founder Gildas Loaec in Japan. Loaec was asked why he signed Citizens! and instead of talking about the group’s music, he divulged something totally different. “I did this survey,” said Burke, mimicking Loaec in a terrible French accent. “I wanted to see if anyone, all of the girls, wanted to fuck at least one of the boys in the band, and everyone said yes so we signed them.”
“He’s a funny guy,” Burke continued, speaking of Loaec. “He just comes up with things. I have no idea if that’s why he wanted to sign us but that’s what he claimed on this particular day.”
Loaec will deejay as Gildas alongside Citizens! tonight at Neo Studio.
The next big break came for Citizens! when Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos heard the same demo as Loaec. Kapranos insisted on producing their debut album, Here We Are, which came out in 2011. The album has an artsy freeform feel flavored with catchy choruses that remind of Franz Ferdinand’s Do You Want To. It took me a whole 60 seconds to get hooked.
The whole album feels like a soundtrack to making out in the backseat of your parents’ car. Burke says that they’ve taken hip-hop beats with really poppy piano riffs and massive indie guitars, laced it with lots of bass, put a jangly 60s acoustic sound over the top and then packed that all into one album.
Citizens! echo the glamour of the 70s, the synthy sparkle of the 80s, but fortunately skip right past the years in which pop was blasphemized and into a time where bands like this are bringing pop back. And they might just be the most handsome band to ever do it — Burke has just been signed to be the new face of Yves Saint Laurent. One way or another, Taipei is being blessed with a Kitsune party, saving you a trip to France.
Citizens! and Gildas play alongside Mykal (real name Mykal Lin, 林哲儀), NeonKidz, and Disk0kidz tonight at 9pm asat Neo Studio, 5F, 22 Songren Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路22號5樓). Tickets are NT$1,400 in advance and NT$1,600 at the door. For advance tickets go to www.thewall.com.tw