Album Review :
Civilian - You Wouldn't Believe What Privilege Costs

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Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: October 21st, 2016


  1. Skulls
  2. Reasons
  3. Borrowed
  4. New Love
  5. Cut & Run
  6. Caroline
  7. Patience
  8. Michael
  9. I Told You
  10. Topography
  11. The Real Thing/The Feeling
  12. Judas

Last year, a new addition to Tooth & Nail’s growing roster released their second album, and let me tell you that it’s not getting the credit it deserves. “You Wouldn’t Believe What Privilege Costs” by Civilian is one of the best T&N releases in years and here’s why.

From the moment the album begins, there’s a feel to the songs that’s hard to pin down. I once related the band to Starflyer 59 in an attempt to figure it out, but that was wrong. They’re heavier and much more layered than the shoegaze SF59. I realized later that it was the appearance of effortless music. There’s a groove to each song unlike so many other bands, and this groove says that each band member is doing exactly what they should be doing, no more no less. They have a very relaxing sound and that’s attributed to both the song writing and vocals. Singer and lyricist Ryan Alexander is without compare in his singing and lyric writing. After thinking for some time who I could compare him to, I found that I couldn’t. It’s lyrics like the following that stands this band away from the mass of others. “Muted drums escape to the balcony through reflective glass/The two of us appeared as a picture unaware the guests were staring back/And one by one, descending from ten, we took the year and traded it in.” – Cut & Run. “What if I find that your fingers in mine coincide with my passing/And there in the void, in the infinite dark, a still small voice begins to talk/Asking, “What have you done? Whom have you loved? Was I not enough? Tell me, what do you want?” Then I’d beg and I’d plead, “Please release me from thee” Eternity’s long and heaven is far.” – Caroline.

On the bio from the band’s website, they have this to say about their music: We do that by writing songs that we hope keep you up at night. We want nothing more than to write the music that you fall in love to, that you can’t wait to show your friends and that accosts small-mindedness. We all think and believe different things— but we agree on the main thing. We all make music alone—but we make our best music together. We are Civilian and we make music for the everyman.”

The music can be best described as a tamer Hearts Like Lions. It’s alternative rock at its best. The standout tracks on the LP are Skulls, Cut & Run, The Real Thing/The Feeling, and Michael.

The last track listed there should have a review on just that one song. It’s so packed with intense writing that it needs to be dissected into layers. The song speaks of a man at a homeless shelter for men that singer Alexander used to work at. The man – Michael was a male prostitute. And the song is a brutally honest take on this man’s life. It should be said, that the album features some mature language, and this song contains the strongest of it. The song is the tipping point of the album, the depth and substance pushes the LP to another level entirely.

The Real Thing/The Feeling was the first single released for the album and with good reason. It’s beyond catchy and belongs on thousands of playlists.

“You Wouldn’t Believe What Privilege Costs” should be on your shopping carts and playlists. This album has been entirely way too quiet for its own good.

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November 16, 2017 6:16 am

Reminds of Death Cab for Cutie

November 15, 2017 1:45 pm

Singer reminds me of John Nolan from the Straylight Run era and Leeland Mooring of…Leeland lol. Oddly, the music sounds something that might come out of a hybrid between those two bands as well.

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