Review: The Courteeners – ANNA
Published on February 12th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Of the reams of ‘anthemic’, glossily produced ‘n’ packaged lads bands that the NME wear like so many emperor’s new clothes, Rochdale four-piece The Courteeners are probably one of the better ones. If that sounds like we’re damning them with faint praise, it’s because that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Frankly, Rocksucker does not understand how anyone other than gullible kids and footballers born in the north west (*cough*GaryNeville*cough) could get excited about this bunch. Granted there is the occasional flash of invention in some of the verses, but they unfailingly lead into choruses so predictable and so relentlessly tonal that they can disappoint you before you’ve even heard them. Easily digested, ‘everyman’ pop with lyrics about love and Debenhams might have its place on Soccer AM goal montages, but the tired-sounding ‘indie-disco’ rhythms and ‘shimmering’ U2 guitar sounds are numbingly formulaic in a way that makes the infrequent bright spots all the more frustrating.
“Lose Control” – seriously, how many songs with this title does one species need? – boasts a relatively sophisticated verse melody that gets even more interesting when it places Talking Heads-like synth in the high end of the mix, but then it takes a sharp intake of breath, puffs out its chest and bursts into a resounding rendition of Might As Well Be Any Song By Any Number of Bands. We don’t know about you, but we’re sick to the molars of Might As Well Be Any Song By Any Number of Bands.
“Van Der Graaf” shows some canniness with a nice interplay of moods, but again its combination of unswerving rhythm and dumbed-down chorus hollering might as well be Matchbox Twenty, especially when Liam James Fray lets fly with another “woah-oh-oh”, as if it wasn’t the single most irritating vocable currently prevalent in popular song. “Push Yourself” fails to take its own advice by succumbing to the bog-standard indie-disco that threatens to break out at every turn, while even the wibbly cartoon synth of “Welcome to the Rave” and Yogi Bear reference in “Save Rosemary in Time” cannot alleviate the air of “poor man’s Pulp’. Scratch that: “utterly destitute man’s Pulp”.
The baroque string arrangement and lovelorn lyrics of “Marquee” is okay, as is the feelgood jangle-pop of closing track “Here Come the Young Men”, but the latter resorts to rhetorical questions (“Are we getting older? Are we getting wiser? Are we getting none of the above?”) that not only reflect the lack of imagination on offer but also the limited shelf-life of These Sorts of Bands. Watched-over NME interns and Sky Sports production teams might dig The Courteeners, but if this is the cream of the current British crop then we might as well just give up on ever having halcyon days again.
Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!
ANNA is out now on V2. For more information, please visit www.thecourteeners.com