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Spiral - Citizen CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.10 | 2 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Man vs. Machine

"Citizen" is the second album from the New Mexico based duo known as Spiral, the fantasmic brain child of friends Chris Boat and Aaron Frale. It was released just months after "The Death of Billy Jensen" which was a killer debut. Spiral has been prolific to a degree that surpasses even most of the classic era bands. Remember when bands didn't take 5 years to record an album? They'd put one out every year or so and it would be a good one. Spiral has released six full length works in well under two years. That would be impressive under almost any circumstances but when the material and stories have me on the edge of my seat, that's amazing.

Spiral is one of the rare bands for whom I pay attention to the concepts, as in lieu of the usual personal angst or precious utopianism, we are treated to some good geeky stories told with loud and proud DIY attitude. The first album was about a family who were genetically replicating themselves over and over, and this time out we have a more space oriented sci-fi story. "Citizen" is about a man trapped in a soulless futuristic society controlled by machines, where humans are forced into labor not to produce things of value, but to keep them occupied. He rebels and hops aboard a ship, heading for the freedom of space.

On their second album Spiral doesn't so much change their heavy/psych/garage/space sound as they do focus it a bit more, and perhaps accentuate the garage rock side of things. There's a tad more structure and succinctness to the tracks, a bit less meandering of keyboards, which I must admit that I miss. Still, I'm having so much fun with this band I've no right to complain. At times there's an almost a punk-economy at play in the thrashy rock and roll and occasionally monotone vocals, on this album I was reminded of the way Minutemen used to belt out their vocals. Tons of energy and attitude, heh heh. Grungy garagey guitars open the album with constricting feel as we learn about our subject's hopeless life controlled by the machine. The guitar playing on "Citizen" is strong and varied once bs ego shred...instead it howls, wails, and it screams when needed-the kind of guitar playing Neil Young would approve of, and perfect for a good hangover. "Watching You All Go By" sees our subject removing his helmet, the device which keeps him misled that all is well, in an attempt to sever their control over him. "Trash Rings" finds him escaping in a homemade space ship knowing in advance it could be a one-way trip.

Once in orbit he discovers a huge ring of space debris he must navigate, represented musically by the chaos of some clanky percussion and braying strings. Felicia Karas contributes some fantastic violin work to the album, a masterful addition that jumps out in this track and grabs you by the neck. It continues into "of Space" with gorgeous violin and warm acoustic guitar representing his freedom as he makes it past the trash fields. "Finally Alone" almost reminds me of some long buzzed jam that Kim Deal would have sprung on an audience in the Breeders era, a lumbering behemoth of energy. "Moon" is the spacey centerpiece full of atmosphere, reminding us that Spiral are fans of Tangerine Dream. Machine attempts to bring back our hero at this point but he holds firm to his dream of new life. It closes with my favorite track "The Fall of Gamelon" which is a stoic and slightly devious sounding instrumental. While I enjoyed Billy Jensen a bit more, Citizen is a solid second effort that leaves me salivating for more Spiralish adventure. Rock on guys.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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