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Courteeners' third studio album Anna arrives two years after the band's Top Ten release Falcon. Recorded in Manchester’s Hertz Studios with producer Joe Cross (Hurts) the album is--according to frontman Liam Fray-- a " new chapter sonically for Courteeners. Our music, like our minds, has evolved and expanded. We have re-arrived - Welcome to the rave”.
Almost three years have elapsed since this Rochdale quartet released their second album, Falcon. A lot has happened in the indie world in that time, and something pretty peculiar has happened to The Courteeners as a result.
It’s like someone sent the band a memo saying that the 80s, synths and not being a lad are in. So after nibbling their nails to stumps, they grabbed a textbook and made a conscious decision to be up for owt.
Falcon was all about mid-paced, sing-along guitar tracks peppered with a rugged brand of Alex Turner-style lyrical drawling and a lot of swagger. The Turnerisms are intact here, but the swagger has diminished and the band has veered in a direction that feels tokenistic, prosaic and ultimately a bit futile.
Lead single Lose Control has a sound reverby guitar hook, but descends into some stadium rock piffle vaguely recalling Friendly Fires. But most of the tracks here are uncomplicated, anthemic by design – and at some points Liam Fray’s solid vocals succeed in lifting things that bit higher.
Marquee offers a stripped-back, almost festive acoustic sound, romantic northern patter smoothing the rough edges. It is, however, followed by the brutish and crude Money. Sample lyric: “Sit down and shut your mouth.”
Although they exhibit new, nostalgic tones not infrequently, The Courteeners remain a band to whom stadium glory seems an ultimate goal – most of these songs were written to be received on an epic live scale. The number of “woah” interludes borders on the bubonic.
But whether this is genetic or spasmodic, it becomes grating. That said, tallying up the “woah” outbursts does become a little addictive. It’s perhaps even fodder for a drinking game, should you be inclined to get absolutely hammered.
Not to be completely unkind, The Courteeners embrace lad rock but do challenge its mandate. ANNA is strategic in its experimentation, but represents a fairly dramatic departure from its makers’ brand, so hats off to that.
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Top Customer Reviews
Opener `Are You In Love With A Notion?' kicks things off in a big way, with pounding drum beats, racing guitar riffs and a successful deployment of a "woah, woah" vocal refrain. It is a pacy number, with a sing-a-long chorus which should go down well at live gigs, and some great vocal hooks in the verses (use of the name Deborah, reminded me of Pulp's `Disco 2000', don't know if that's just me though).
Lead single `Lose Control' is very much a grower, not necessarily clicking with the listener first time around, perhaps due to the off-key, intoned vocals in the verses, or perhaps the more electronic sound compared to the previous albums. It seems an odd choice for the lead single, but it does at least have an energetic chorus which will likely be the first thing that clicks with listeners (the rest of the song grew on me after a while). Next up though is the stand-out track on the album `Van Der Graaff' which perfectly marries the band's new sound with Liam Fray's song-writing style.
Another highlight comes in the form of `Marquee' which sees Fray in similar territory to St. Jude's `Please Don't' although it seems that he has matured since then, and the band have set a more fitting backing track to the lyrics.Read more ›
I wasn't sure about the courteeners initially, being surrorunded by teenagers fawning over "You're not 19 forever" kind of put me off.
However, if after 2 plays you don'd find yourself singing aloud to "Are you in love with a notion", then there is something seriously wrong with you. The catchy tunes are superb, the less catchy ones are far from filler.
This is a gem.
On first listen I thought o, on second listen I thought hmm, on third listen I thought yeah and it just got better and better.
At first I thought it missed those anthemic tunes The Courteeners are famous for but they are here, just a little more subtle.
There are some great tunes here with some great hooks and lyrics.
Welcome back Liam and the lads!
Liam Fray is one of the Hardest working men in music but I think that's also his flaw. This is a decent album with some of the best songs he's written such as Van Der Graaff but It doesn't feel like this album flows like the other two.
The third album is always the hardest, Be here now by Oasis in opinion was dreadful. This is not a dreadful album nor is it amazing. Take the good songs from the album and wait for Album number four as this band have the potential to be massive.
The 'Whoa's on a lot of the hooks and chorus' give it more reason to be a fans album than Falcon or St. Jude!
The Courteeners make music for the fans, for the gigs and the buzz both parties get at the live shows.
This album shows how The Courteeners have taken strides to similarly unique sounds that Coldplay, K.O.L, Snow Patrol put out.
Bring on the live gigs!
This album is a huge let down, I honestly haven't heard a single good song on the album. I really wanted to like this album and lied to myself a little, thinking it would be a lot better better than this. If you're a big fan of their's then it's obviously worth checking out but if you only like a few of their songs then this album isn't likely to capture your imagination at all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Oh yes, this is as good as Falcon, if not better! Polished from start to finish!Published 20 months ago by Jackarmy1071
This album was eagerly anticipated by every courteeners fan out there but if I'm going to be honest, this was a let down. Read morePublished 22 months ago by George Wells
Probably my favourite album of 2013. Some of the Courteeners previous albums have had a few indifferent album tracks, but this is strong from start to finish, with a nice variety... Read morePublished on 1 Feb. 2014 by Robert English