By - Nov 1st, 2007 02:52 pm

The average person does not listen to instrument-led rock music. At most, it’s used as background noise while cleaning, studying, or even sleeping – earning a position not much higher than a Sharper Image sound machine. Without prominent vocals, it’s easy for most to lose interest. Unless, like the not so itty-bitty eight-piece Citay committee, there is a generous amount of aggressive ‘70s guitar to demand attention.

The noise comes when least expected, as during the unassuming Elliott Smith-like “On the Wings.”Since the disc’s undertones are mellow, these interjected rock-god moments are startling. Also surprising – and out-of-era – is the Metallica-meddling on “Former Child” which, thankfully, bows out a minute or so into the almost eight-minute track. Now, eight minutes may seem drawn out, but Little Kingdom is never difficult to connect with, even at its most noisy, lyrically free and instrumentally hefty.

Not quite as kitchen-sink as today’s symphonic indie bands with as many members, Citay’s wackiest accessory is the mandolin. In addition, songwriter Ezra Feinberg plays nine instruments and provides tender vocals in select songs like the whimsical “First Fantasy.”Not only does he rival Sufjan Stevens in gratuitous musicianship, but also channels Sufjan’s minimalist, folksy vibe throughout “Moonburn,” the album’s closer – beneath the hell-raising retro guitar shredding, of course.

If your Led Zepplin III or Pink Floyd Animals vinyl is wearing thin, Little Kingdom is an ideal segue into the current century. Apologies if it’s only released on CD.

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