When the members of Boy Kill Boy get it right, they get it so right. Critics have said Civilian is nothing but a regurgitation of bands such as the Killers, Bloc Party, and the Kaiser Chiefs, but a song such as “On My Own” proves them wrong. Those elements will creep in, of course, because Boy Kill Boy writes in a similar style. But the skill with which “On My Own” and “Civil Sin,” for example, are put together easily sets Boy Kill Boy apart. There’s an energy on Civilian that’s appealing, even if it’s often misdirected. Still, everything except for the aforementioned tracks and “Ivy Parker” and “Suzie” is filler.
Those four songs prove the band is capable of creating a finely crafted record. The members of Boy Kill Boy should have focused the energy of those songs onto an EP and then taken some more time on the album, because the rest of the tracks on Civilian feel rushed. Not even Chris Peck’s voice, an odd pairing of the theatric and the sincere (at times reminiscent of Stellastarr‘s Shawn Christensen’s delivery), can save those songs from their inevitable decline.
But what were we really expecting from Civilian? Was this record meant to floor us with its avant-garde approach, heartbreaking lyrics, or epic atmospherics? No. It was meant to make us dance and sing along, and it succeeds on that front in a number of songs. The band show’s potential, but this album isn’t one that will endure repeated listens.