The Courtneys: II (Secretly Canadian/Flying Nun)

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Country Song
The Courtneys: II (Secretly Canadian/Flying Nun)

The enjoyably reductive guitar pop of the Courtneys out of Vancouver found favour here for their self-titled debut album with its widescreen strum'n'sing, deliberately breezy teenage-whine sound and what seemed a schooling in early Flying Nun.

When the template is that secure (and referenced) there's probably no need to mess with it. And so they don't (much) for this follow-up which also has more overt nods to early Sixties girl groups (albeit with a guitar churn and slightly pessimistic lyrics on Country Song).

There are a lot of relationship songs here (someone is away, someone is sort-of missed) but it's often coupled with a sense of “Huh, yeah. Whatever” Californian slacker indifference.

What pulls this back however is that very little here tries to fill that template with more depth and breadth. The limited vocal range they possess and how it is placed in the mid-ground means that for most of these 40 minutes there is a sameness . . . and a better producer and/or mixer would have pulled out the points of difference in the songs (the ethereal guitar passage in Mars Attacks, the choruses which are there).

At its best – the relentless Clean-like chug and increasing sonic density of the seven minute-almost Lost Boys – this has a compelling assertion, and that song's lyrics say, “You look just like you did in 1986, that's why you're my vampire teenage boyfriend”.

Some might make the same retro reference about the Courtney's sound.

The Courtneys remain an enjoyable and almost guilty pleasure for their distillation of Sixties pop, Seventies pop-punk and Eighties indie.guitar rock. But once too often this comes off just too much like more of the same.

However if you liked it first go-round then they are back and just a little more cinematic in sound.

As the French say, the more things change . . . 

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