There is a certain amount of cheese that comes part and parcel with any pop release. As a consumer, the measure in question is that of how much cheese one is willing to ingest in a given sitting, if any at all. As I’ve grown, so has my willingness to accept said cheese, and indeed my demand for it, which worked in favour of the debut album Into The Storm from Toronto chamber-pop duo Citizen Jane.
What’s really cool about Citizen Jane is that they’re not trying to sound like an indie band. I mean they do, but I think they come by it honestly. Their modern sounding combination of acoustic guitar, violin, and beautiful vocal harmonies only further betrays their real love for country and folk.
The title track “Into The Storm” is the group at its very best. They use the click of the guitar strings to push the bluesy groove along towards its lush climax. There’s also a rousing and triumphant instrumental track, “Chasing the Sun,” which is something most pop acts won’t even attempt, chamber pop or otherwise. The plucked strings and airy vocal harmonies really do make you feel like you’re floating through “Atmosphere.”
Where a drum set is used, it works to varying degrees. The densely simple percussion on “Animals/Machines” distracts from more interesting things, and it comes off sounding like an acoustic cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song, which is strange in this context. The record hits its lowest point on “Let the Cold Wind Blow.” It crosses that fine line between pure dairy-product and quality, it drones, and doesn’t end as quickly as you’d like it to. They manage to bring things back around with “We Could Make It” which is a real jaunty closing number with a strong chorus.
With strong vocal performances all the way through and a real sense of scope, this is a pretty great record. It’s definitely not party music, but it is definitely great driving music, meant for long road trips and time spent moving through the outdoors.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson