The day of reckoning is at hand for that hateful, be-ponytailed hippie we all knew as teenagers. The one who exploited his ability to play the opening notes of “Over the Hills and Far Away” to attract a multitude of lovely, hippie maidens to his side. (Hippie maidens that were completely unattainable to those of us who chose skateboards over acoustic guitars – a hastily made decision that continues to haunt me to this day.) Little Kingdom, the San Francisco space rock band Citay’s second album, presents a top-shelf collection of acoustic-based compositions with closely harmonized male and female vocals, some purposeful electronic accents, and a warm helping of cascading electric guitar solos that recall the strident leads on Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey in the Jar.”
In spite of the righteous ’70s rock worship that’s going on here, listeners shouldn’t feel like they need to prepare for yet another irksome nostalgia trip along the lines of the ho-hum garage rock of current acclaim. Citay makes a clear statement that they regard the 30-year-old demeanor of Led Zeppelin songs like “Going to California” or “The Battle of Evermore” as a touchstone for imagining where that music might’ve gone had it stayed on the creative track instead of collapsing beneath its own obesity.
The album’s eight tracks all share an ornate precision, but mercifully never succumb to the kind of self-importance sometimes associated with the dreaded “studio project.” There’s a decidedly anthemic mood evident here that leaves the door wide open for all kinds of cinematic imagery to flood one’s mind, and when the searing, twin guitar harmonics of “On the Wings” kick in, it’s fair to call it one of the more goose-pimply musical moments in recent memory.
Little Kingdom has a narrative of unique radiance, thanks to its beautifully dispatched lyrics, and the gathering ascension of the music upon which they are shored. Here’s to hoping the U.S. tour that’s currently being plotted will live up to this record’s considerable enormity.