Making Sense of Citizen’s “In the Middle of It All”

By Yong Los
September 10, 2017

Alternative rock quintet, Citizen, have released brand new song titled “In the Middle of It All” off their forthcoming album As You Please. The song’s video was directed by Christopher Good, who has worked with artists like Joyce Manor, Kevin Morby, and Okkervil River.

Citizen’s Evolution

Citizen’s sound has evolved considerable from the emotive punk they became known for when they formed in 2009. Their last release, Everybody is Going to Heaven,  used harsh feedback and auxiliary tones that offered more dynamic control. The band’s first singles off As You Please show hints of their past, but ultimately offer glimpses of their future. Citizen are forging a balanced sound that is both captivating and intriguing.

“In the Middle of It All” begins with slow, jangled guitar strums while repetitive vocal harmonies soar above it. Lyrically, the verses tell a story of a man and woman that, despite their different positions in life, are lonely. The choruses outline their overlapping sense of confusion, one that is inescapable. Good’s video offers a visual interpretation of this internal conflict, using symbols and emotions buried in the story’s plot.

In the Middle of It All

A scene from Citizen's video for their new single "In the Middle of It All" that shows a woman dressed in a wedding dress speaking to her phone.
A Scene from the video for “In The Middle of It All,” directed by Christopher Good.

The video for “In the Middle of It All” follows a woman (played by Andreina Byrne) through a monotonous routine. The first scene shows Byrne dressed in a pantsuit, reading a list of tasks to her phone. These tasks range from things like enjoying kale to more long term efforts like getting a promotion or having a child.

In the following scenes, Byrne gets into a car that takes her out into the woods. It’s here that she encounters a small sphere covered in what appears to be gum balls. Scene after scene, Byrne returns to the sphere in a different outfit and peels away a single layer.

The camera follows Byrne back to an apartment where she picks up a note beneath her door, adds it to a pile on the floor, and crosses out a picture on the wall. Each picture she crosses out shows an outfit she’s already worn, and the ones she’s to wear the next day. At the end of the video, Byrne finds herself running from the notes and their contents, only to find the sphere that she had spent so much time picking apart was gone.

Picking Apart the Song

Byrne’s tasks are reflective of the outfit she’s wearing. Each outfit is another phase of one’s life. She moves through each phase, chipping away layers of who she was, changing in the process. In “In the Middle of It All,” the band attempt to make sense of their confusion. Ultimately, Citizen and Good deliver interpretations of the same experience. In the chaos of life, it becomes easy to lose sight of who you are. But, as both Citizen and Good suggest, taking a step back from it all gives you a better idea of what’s happening around you.

As You Please is available October 6th via Run For Cover Records.

Check out the first single, “Jet,” from the album below.

The record was tracked with Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, Tigers Jaw) at Studio 4. The band released a video documenting the experience.

By Yong Los September 10, 2017
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