San Francisco’s Citizens Here and Abroad, in the long tradition of musicians past, wrote their sophomore effort over the course of domestic and international touring. Surreally, they’ve claimed inspiration from sharing a family berth on the “HMS Pride of Hull.” Waving, Not Drowning is about as clear a depiction of stress and turbulence as one could receive. I’ve done a share of trans-Atlantic relocation in the recent years, and can hear all too readily where these guys are coming from. It’s been very easy to reach for some Kanye West or Mike Skinner within three tracks of this. However, it would be unfair to pan the album straight off. It evokes pristine claustrophobia and split headaches of the outwardly mobile like a risk assessor’s checklist.
Sonically, the album is shimmering and uniform. The lyrical machinations on display are suitably relentless. The opening “Stranger” combines Interpol processing as Robillard hushedly references two Manchester indie giants in the name of social substance stress, deliberately or otherwise. “In The Dark” is an irony free account of party excess. Cocaine is snorted. Mansun’s influence may be wider than I think. “Evening News” has shades of The Church as it salutes meandering. The constant repetition that “really I’m ok” and name checking “customer service decay” and delayed planes might not have their intended impact. An accusation that “all your words end in i-n-g” deserves major props though. At times, things fall into place beautifully. “What Goes On in the Heart” builds up into a climactic pop-rock finale, like the best moments of Racetrack’s City Lights. “The Neighbors Called the Police” recognises that “we could be anywhere” with the best qualities of New Order’s Get Ready. “Nerves” parts like My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything.
As I type with Waiving, Not Drowning replaying my little brother is dancing around in an Espanyol tracksuit singing “the funeral was average.” He’s got a point. Plenty of people have lived the life detailed here, and sometimes, a focus on the downside can only take you so far. That said, there’s no denying the moments that truly get under the skin. An album to cool the heart as it evokes the tepid clean of commuter belt.
Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights
Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern
Racetrack – City Lights