366 Songs 018: The Citizens’ Band

Despite being the “hidden track,” I’ve always been fairly convinced that “The Citizens’ Band” is one of the best songs, if not the best song, on the Super Furry Animals’ third album, Guerrilla; for one thing, it’s one of the most straightforward songs in terms of structure and production (Guerrilla felt, at times, like a reaction to the autotuning and increasing manipulation of pop music post-recording that was beginning to creep into the top 40 at the time it was released, and as a result feels at times more sterile and less warm than their other albums; I don’t know how much of that is actually there, and how much is my reading of it, mind you), and for another, lyrically it feels personal and true in a way that few other songs do, if that makes sense.

There’s a 1970s vibe to the song, for me; not just in the high notes – listen as Gruff strains at the end of the song, or during the “We all need”s in the chorus – but the flute and the shuffling drums that feel lethargic in the same way that Ringo often did. There’s something about the slightly stoned feel of the song that reminds me of “Hometown Unicorn,” the band’s first single, in a good way; it could be a song from that same era, with the slightly scruffy feel to the whole thing, the guitars simultaneously sounding like glam rock and sludge, and the most hilarious handclaps in pop music (Seriously, if you listen close, there’s just one clap every now and again, a very steady, slow pattern).

Lyrically, it feels like two songs in a way; the very specific joke about writing a song in CB radio slang (“I’m a breaker that breaks/And my handle is Goblin”) and the far more universal longing when we get to the chorus, sung with more passion – and, perhaps tellingly, more voices – as we get “Me and you/So many ways to communicate,” a lyric that always sticks in my head as weirdly and wonderfully important in ways that I can feel but not necessarily understand, but something that feels at the center of my world as I end up writing on the internet about social media for a living. So many ways to communicate, indeed; if only I could write that in the harmonies and emphasis that it deserves, that I feel every time I listen to the song.