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Citizen K: Second Thoughts

Citizen K, aka Klas Qvist, a Swedish singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is an artist new to me. His second album Second Thoughts, a two disc set, was released in 2017. Qvist plays a variety of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, various keyboards (including Hammond and piano), percussion, slide whistle, autoharp as well as lead and backing vocals. He also has a little help from Emma Augustsson (cello), Tobias Walka (bass guitar, electric guitar, loops, percussion, harmony vocals), Kim Gunneriusson (drums, electric guitar), Christer Rudmyr (electric guitar), Anders Nilsson (keyboards), Peter Roswall (drums), Annika Larsen (recorder, lead, harmony and backing vocals), Magnus Ericson (blues harp), Jonas Nordin (orchestral mayhem), Mikael Carlsson (electric guitar, percussion), Jens Ekelin (electric guitar), Peter Roswall (drums), Johanna Lillvik (lead and backing vocals) and Berra Karlsson (pedal steel guitar).

It’s not often I listen to an album I really like right off the bat but Second Thoughts did it for me from the very first listen. This is a near perfect pop album, at least to these ears. If you like bands like The Moody Blues, Badfinger, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills & Nash, America and 10cc you will likely appreciate what’s going on here.

It’s the vocals, lead, backing and harmony that really sets this band apart. I was reminded by bits and pieces of the band’s above, an acoustic strum here, a vocal harmony there, you get the idea. This album is just so easy to listen to I couldn’t help but get into it.

The first CD begins with the psychedelic infused pop of “Mindexpander” with drone-like keys and deep sounding cello. The drones eventually fade leading to strummed acoustic guitar and piano accompanied by Beatles-like lead vocals. This is smartly played pop music of the highest order. With “King Of Second Thoughts” you get one of the most gorgeous vocal arrangements on the album recalling The Moody Blues and The Beach Boys. The background Hammond accentuates the lush sounds. More Moody Blues can be heard on the catchy “She Will Probably Tell You” melding acoustic and electric guitars in a most delectable way.

The second disc begins with the near pop perfection of “In Holland”. Lovely piano and lead vocals are aided by swirling keyboards and gorgeous harmonies. “Wasps & Cars” is the longest track with Beatles-like interludes, stunning melodies, nice acoustic guitar and a few unexpected change ups, yet still in the realm of pop music. My favourite is likely the irresistible “So This Is Life (I Didn’t Know)”, a pure earworm if there ever was one. The CSN-like vocal harmonies in “When Birds Fly South” is another easy on the ears moment and the psychedelic flavoured pop leanings of “Citizen K’s Dream” ends the set in a most satisfying way.

Second Thoughts is more than your average pop album. There is a certain depth to these arrangements and a sophistication that is truly impressive. Excellent stuff indeed.

Track Listing:
Disc 1
1. Mindexpander Parts 1 & 2 (6:01)
2. Song Of Adjustment (2:58)
3. Siamese Twinkle Star (0:41)
4. Train Of No Forgiveness (3:40)
5. She Will Probably Tell You (3:19)
6. And Now, Let’s Turn The Page, Said The King (0:32)
7. King Of Second Thoughts (3:48)
8. Hang On To Your Sanity (3:24)
9. Remembering Helena (0:57)
10. Floor Thirteen (5:09)
11. Empty Chair (3:43)
12. Just Once More (Second Hand Opinion) (5:58)

Disc 2
1. In Holland (4:53)
2. Wasps & Cars (9:35)
3. Dutch Coffee (1:39)
4. So This Is Life (I Didn’t Know) (5:18)
5. When Birds Fly South (2:58)
6. Something Truly Magic (3:19)
7. I Think You’ve Been Cheated Too (4:22)
8. Rest Your Head (3:05)
9. (This Is) Our Town (4:14)
10. The Band In The Attic (6:10)
11. Citizen K’s Dream (4:17)

Added: March 30th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist on Facebook
Hits: 1103
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Citizen K: Second Thoughts
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-03-30 00:56:54
My Score:

Every now and then, and against my better judgement, I allow my eyes to slip over the press releases that sometimes accompany the albums I’m lucky enough to receive for review. In the case of Citizen K and the blurb that came with the two albums for perusal, Second Thoughts and III (reviewed separately), I must admit that it made me sigh, loose comparisons to The Beatles’ White Album, The Beach Boys, 10CC and ABBA setting an unrealistically high standard. Hence my initial encounter with this album immediately underwhelmed and yet, for all that Second Thoughts was never going to be rivalling the classics, it slowly clicked into place - this two disc collection being grown up, considered, mature and thoughtful pop music steeped in the late 60s and early 70s.

Klas Qvist, the man at the centre of this band, is one of those vocalists that you always know will never win awards for his microphone prowess, while still somehow giving performances that captivate and leave little doubt that he is pretty much perfect for his chosen setting. The melancholy and sway of “Train Of No Forgiveness” is a prime example, where his heartfelt approach plays perfectly against the tailored guitar solo and intricate construction. “King Of Thoughts” meanders through a strawberry field after a Ringo Starr tom tumble, while “Hang On To Your Sanity” pays homage at the altar of Mick and Keef as it jars its riff at you and finds more vocal angst than you might have expected.

Opening the second disc, “In Holland” and its beautiful slow build reinforces the strength of what’s been lovingly built here, with a plaintive keyboard motif playing off layered vocals and broken hearts. While the jazzy “Dutch Coffee” is one of a few shorter scene re-setters that pop up between songs and allow this collection to breathe quite organically. The back and forth of “I Think You’ve Been Cheated Too” does feel a little forced but with the sharp angles of “Rest Your Head” and prime-time strum of “This Is Our Town” excellently presented, the overall feel of Second Thoughts is of well cared for ideas lovingly put together and presented with real affection. It will maybe never live up to the blurb, but then, once the CD is in the player, those lofty ambitions slip into insignificance.

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