Citay present a fantasy version of prog for 2010.
Alex Tudor 2010-02-09
It’s the sign of a strong identity that an album cuts through the weather and general grime of London to show you the perennial summer of San Francisco in the 1970s is only a song away.
Borne on a buoyant pulse of strummed acoustic guitars, with the shimmer of flanged electric guitars zig-zagging between them, most of the tracks on Californian combo’s Citay’s third LP feel like prog epics – even the ones that stay under seven minutes. Fortunately, for all the FX and synth-settings, the songwriting isn’t obsessively authentic in its emulation of Pink Floyd, Popol Vuh, or ELO.
That’s to say, there’s a solid groove to most tracks, with no digressions to the Court of the Crimson King, or democratic opportunities for weaker members of the commune to sing. Just as twee-revivalists The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are more JAMC-like than Felt and The Field Mice, Citay present a fantasy version of prog for 2010.
In places, the seamless, flowing grooves are replaced with more rhythmic, danceable arrangements. The title-track has a passing resemblance to Belle & Sebastian’s Boy with the Arab Strap. Then again, Secret Breakfast, at the midpoint of the album, uses fluting keyboard sounds, and the gentle pattering of tabla or bongos, to take us down to the edge of a very sleepy river. Hunter, alone, has a hint of space (evoking) rock in its massively reverberated distant instruments, and otherwise rare minor chords. The song’s alternating guitar solos compete to be as imagistic as possible: you can imagine stoned audience members going “Hey! That one’s a robot rapping!” before some old-school heavy metal hoves into view, like a landslide.
True, the propulsive opener, Careful With That Hat, acknowledges its debt to Pink Floyd, but it’s Bardo Pond and Mercury Rev who spring to mind more often, which is why the closing cover of Tugboat by Galaxie 500 (pretty much spot-on) seems so appropriate – Citay aren’t obsessed with a Golden Age that’s in the past, but a Golden Age that keeps recurring.