Yeah, I’m pretty sure I won’t be the first one to observe the connotation of Klas Qvist‘s alter ego moniker for himself, Citizen K and of course Orson Welles classic movie which has a similar film name. In fact when I looked at a previous album cover I saw one with a very similar features to newspaper magnate, Charles Foster Kane played by Welles. Being a hardcore proghead, my first very thoughts when hearing of the name, I thought it might have something to do with Scottish band, Citizen Cain. But no, no such similarity whatsoever.
That’s not to say the music doesn’t have any similarities to others though.
I’m always keen when receiving new CD’s reading the promo sheets that usually accompany the albums. They’re helpful in various ways because we don’t know anything about a number of bands putting out new albums, especially those who are not signed to any of the large record labels. (Record labels…. what are those?). So I received a batch of CD’s including this one. Titled “III” for obvious reasons it came with a sheet of useful info. Now these sheets aren’t going to downplay their musical worth. No way are they going to report something like, “We tried our best…” or “You might like it.” No, they’re going to really want to draw our attention to the album. Engage us. Seduce us to want to put the disc into the player and listen to it. So it wasn’t surprising then that Klas Qvist gave it his best shot with, “Citizen K III” is the best album yet from this Swedish pop artist. Featuring 13 songs, “III” conjures up an essential blend of catchy 21st century pop and rock vocal tracks balanced by a couple prog pop instrumental tracks that serve as beat group style instrumental interludes in the style of Stackridge or even Speedy Keen. The 2018 CD release of “III” proves that Citizen K is a modern maestro at combining breezy American west coast Brian Wilson and Chad & Jeremy style rock with a spirited blend of UK influenced, Swedish art pop songs.”
To be honest, I don’t think Klas goes far enough in pumping up his album’s musical direction and possible esteem. I’d have throw in, “if you’re looking for something magical where Paul McCartney started recording new Pilot songs then look no further.” You know the Scottish band, Pilot, right? They had a couple of hits with “Magic” and “Just A Smile” back in the 70’s. They of course would play an important part with Alan Parsons career after “Dark Side Of The Moon,” who in turn had produced their earlier successful albums. So when you get “III” for your collection, and I hope you do, you’ll see where I’m heading with this. For me it has that whole “Pop Rock” vibe running through it with these well uplifting, penned songs. So those are my first thoughts when listening to this album.
The first track welcomes us aboard asking that we have our passports ready as a pleasant instrumental sets the mood. A nice little guitar solo running through the three-minute plus song. “True Companions” is the next one and has a distinctive early ELO feel to it in the vocals. Very melodic with excellent backing vocals on it. Klas has a good voice for this kind of sound. Then the third track “Let This Be Love” changes gear and we’re channeling Paul McCartney era “Ram” if I’m not mistaken. This is another one Klaus gets away with it without it sounding so contrived and old hack. Very nice indeed. As you can see I’m going to be using nice a lot in this article. It just suits the whole vibe and sound running through each of these tracks. Then there is “Toolmaker’s Daughter” which starts of with some nice (see, I told you 😉 ) Hammond-type keyboards and vocals in the Crosby, Stills and Nash or America, songbook. So I’m really liking this album by now and we’re only up to track four and there’s still nine songs to go! The next one comes at us with a vague disco riff running through it in parts and the sound of seagulls mewing in the background to capture the imagery of “Ocean Call.” One for the radio I think with its appealing and uplifting melody. That’s quickly followed by a further grouping of soft yet sweet tunes with a hint towards The Beatles (especially in the harmonies) and even a slight early ELO influence to these ears. Certainly “Piano In The Rain” has that what I mentioned before, Paul McCartney channeling Pilot. A nicely layered pop song with a touch of atmospherics with the sound of rain. The next track, “Beasts Of England” is conjoined instrumentally with the previous one, showcasing to at least my ears how well this artist works in-studio producing all this music to a very presentable and enjoyable performance. And the last track is as strong as the others. “And You Danced All Night (Coda)” harks back to those days, if you can remember back that far, where Gilbert O’Sullivan ruled the airwaves with “Claire.” It really does have that kind of melodic vibe.
By the way, if what I read is true on Klas playing every instrument on this album, then full kudos to him for such a well constructed album filled with good guitar, bass, drum, keyboards and vocals that Paul McCartney would have been proud of. Nice production too from Klas and Mats-Ola Tranell.
Overall, if you’re looking for an album that takes you back to the 70’s with 21st century sensibilities in the studio then Citizen K‘s “III” is not a bad choice to have playing on whatever system you use filling your house or car with Soft Rock in the best familiar way. He’s a good writer of catchy songs alright with plenty of guitar riffs running through it. Swedish multi-instrumentalist Klas Qvist rarely if at all deviates in mood except for the second-to-last, track, “After The Fact (Encore)” with a slower pacing and deeper reflective tone running through it. Klas has a fine voice which, for fear of repeating myself, has all the goodness of Paul McCartney and Gilbert O’Sullivan, at least to my way of thinking. Some of us still like those warmer days of 10cc and Wings so it’s good we have a fine writer, musician and vocalist who can reach back and grab it and give us a full album of nostalgic sounds and feelings. “Teflon” is a much tried cliche hardly used these days, but these songs really stick in your head (in a good way).
Not only am I looking forward to what comes next but can’t wait to hear his previous albums!