In 2020, Citizens released what was possibly their best work to date (or at least my personal favorite), The Joy of Being. Dropping nearly all of the quirkiness of past albums, it was a much more contemporary pop-sounding, yet wholly peaceful listen. It was a decision that worked really well for the band (especially for the time it was released), and a decision that's carrying over into the long-awaited follow-up, I Can't Find the Edges of You.
The band's sixth LP continues the trend of toning down the sound into the contemporary/CCM zone, while still keeping their unique personality alive in the instrumentation and melodies. In other words, this album still feels like a Citizens album, but more like a natural successor to Fear and the aforementioned The Joy of Being rather than their rocky debut or its synthpop successor. Sure there's "Love Light," which features upbeat, rhythmic verses and a reggae hook with a catchy chorus full of whoa-oh-ohs. And of course tracks like "Imagination" and "Here I Am" do give me some Join the Triumph vibes. For the most part, though, the main course is a big dose of radio-ready singles like "Good Ground," "A Thousand Shores," and "To Know You." But thankfully, Citizens is still a band with artistic integrity, so each and every song they offer here is still well-written and thoughtful. In fact, "To Know You" is likely one of the best Citizens songs to date, and it's preceded by another personal favorite of mine, "Here I Am," a synth-heavy track that honestly manages to sound quite magical, but is also reverent and humble.
Singer and lyricist Zach Bolen wrote I Can't Find the Edges of You in the wake of family tragedy, as the poison of worldly politics started tearing some of the family apart. Wading through the temptations of fear and division, Bolen found that God is much bigger, such that His presence is inexhaustible (or, we can't find the edges of Him). This concept is perfectly expressed in "Everything and More" - not only does the bridge almost use the exact album title ("You're our eternity / infinite destiny / go on forever with You / won't find the edges of You"), but the whole song explores God's vastness despite man's insistence on making Him fit in our heads ("We have tried to make You small / to fit inside these narrow walls / we have built all these rooms / but You just keep expanding …. Deeper than deep, brighter than bright / more than our words could ever do to describe / truer than true, purer than pure / You're everything and still You are more"). Outside of this main theme of the album, Citizens dives into other Biblical concepts. "Good Ground" touches on the parable of the sower, as Bolen pleads with God to help him be the good ground that the seed falls on, "A Thousand Shores" focuses on the sufficiency of Christ and His willingness and ability to meet all of our needs, and the opener "Imagination" blissfully ponders what life will be like once we're in the full presence of God in eternity ("So many thoughts in my head / like will we ever get tired of laughing / and will we still go to bed / or just stay up with You all life dancing / You know, You're my destination / You're my sweetest dream / You're my imagination / Yeah, You're the child in me"). A lot of ground is covered, and it's all… well, good ground.
Since bursting onto the scene in 2013, Citizens has become well-known and adored for putting out quality, Christ-centered music that is at the same time unique and accessible. As the band has seen fit in the last decade, the sounds have noticeably mellowed out for the most part, but they haven't stopped being Citizens. I Can't Find the Edges of You is an album that took me a lot of listens, but it slowly revealed itself more and more to be a lovely work that Bolen and company can be proud of.- Review date: 2/19/23, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Running Club Records / Integrity Music
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