The Courteeners' second album demonstrates a deliciously refined musical sensibility and is packed full of good tunes.
Front-man Liam Fray is a very fine songwriter. His droll Mancunian vocal delivery is the ideal instrument to communicate his pithy narratives.
At the beginning of 'Take Over The World' he sings : "I looked into her eyes and I swore, I've never written a cliche before and I'll probably never do so; she was beautiful though". With that one line he made me believe in his vision. It is a worthy anthem.
In this collection's twelve numbers there is barely a moment when our attention is allowed to wander.
The band brings energy and imagination to the complex arrangements. Michael Campbell's drumming deserves a special mention. He is the vivacious rhythmic glue which holds the magic all together. Listen to the big back-beat and splashing cymbals on "You Overdid It Doll" for evidence of his consummate skill.
'Lullaby' is a beautifully wistful song, packed full of wonderfully vivid and affecting lyrical imagery. Mr Fray has a way with words and allows us to see the world through his eyes with a heady mixture of both humour and pathos. "That vintage Chanel dress that you wore Just accentuated the fact that your heart was sore...." (The album is worth buying just to hear how he fits the word "accentuated" into the line!!)
'Cameo Brooch' is another piece of sharply-drawn story-telling. The disturbing imagery drags us into a very dark place. The ambiguity of the drama unfolding before us creates an almost suffocating sense of helplessness in the face of his subject's pain. (A song every bit as powerful as the gritty realism of Joni Mitchell's 'Cherokee Louise').
The piano-based 'Last Of The Ladies' is absolutely enchanting in its stripped-down simplicity. Mr Fray's vocal performance is utterly compelling in its moving intensity.
Final track 'Will It Be This Way Forever?' delivers a huge epic wave of sound and brings the album to a memorable and ground-shaking conclusion. Stunning!
Producer Ed Buller understands exactly what must be done (and not done) to bring this wonderful music to life.
Great album - as mentioned by a lot of people, musically comparable to later Doves/earlier Elbow (the gravelly voice of the singer is a joy), lyrically resembling the 1st 2 Arctic Monkeys albums (listen to the chorus of "The Opener" - genius). 1st album St Jude is great admittedly and - if you enjoy plinky plonky Smiths/Libertines (albeit more skilfully played than Messrs Barat and Docherty) guitar work - choose that. However, if your after more of the thick, layered, driving guitars on St Jude single "Not Nineteen Forever", buy this - it wont disappoint.
On Falcon, their second album, The Courteeners progress from the angry yet melodic Libertines-esque racket of their debut record. There are pianos, giant synth swooshes and layered vocals...the album is reminiscient of Pulp at times, what with the plaintive baritone of Liam Fray married to an expansive, synth-layered sound: on scanning the album notes it is no surprise therefore that Ed Buller, producer of Pulp's seedy disco nineties classic album A Different Class is on production duties here. Cameo Brooch and Last of the Ladies push the Courteeners into a lusher, more sensual songwriter direction: Good Times Are Calling is sensational, the standout track of the album, a Doves-esque, staccato medlodic joy. Sycophant and the closer, Will It Be This Way Forever? hark back to the nervy, guitar bile and spittle of the debut album. You Overdid It Doll will just about get away with its similarity to Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out to become an `indie dancefloor classic' and Cross My Heart And Hope To Fly is Elbow with a cocky swagger. The Courteeners have evolved their sound on this second album and Falcon is hugely satisfying.
I got into The Courteeners in a weird way - through playing PES2010 - and bought St Jude, loving it straight away. I soon followed up and bought Falcon. Unlike the first album it took more listens to get into the album but eventually, one song at a time, they won me over. There are many songs I love but more than any Cameo Brooch is an excellent four minutes of British music.
The Courteeners were certainly at the tail end of the libertines wave with debut St. Jude - an attempt to make jangling indie pop stadium sized, with mixed success at best. Songs such as 'Fallowfield Hillbilly' seem to be in the distant past now though, as Liam Fray and company have tightened up and with a little help from Ed Buller have produced an album of truly gargantuan propotions. Strings, Delay Pedals and Melancholy are all plentiful, and throughout there are obvious comparisons to U2, Coldplay or fellow mancunians Elbow. Fray's voice in particular is much better and compliments the overall sound, which clearly has a more practiced band at the heart.
1) The Opener: A lyrically unsubtle song about Manchester, with a melody as good as any on St. Jude. Might have expected a larger song for, well, an opener, but that it isn't shows how the band have progressed. 7/10
2) Take Over The World: A string laden Anthemic tune which unfortunately, despite the skyscraper-sized guitars, seems just the wrong side of a Take That tribute, or at best Embrace. Still, even casual fans will no doubt adore this live (if indeed casual Courteeners fans exist). 5/10
3) Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly: Initially a free download that marked a very different direction for Falcon, and a darker side that was definitely exciting to hear. Gloomy 'woah-oh's and staccato piano build up an atmosphere, but the song itself is probably one of the weaker on the album. 6/10
4) You Overdid It Doll: The title's daft, but definitely worthy of being lead single off the album. Sounds like New Order's bigger, angrier brother, adding some much needed vigour to all the thoughtfulness in the album. 9/10
5) Lullaby: This perhaps personifies the new look Courteeners. A Piano led ballad full of more sorrow than Fray has been able to transfer before, we can see now that the Courteeners, like the best of Manchester, are here to make you *feel*. 8/10
6) The Good Times Are Calling: The closest we get to a St Jude era song, being essentially a friendly indie pop song, but delivered with superior musicianship and more subtle vocals. A nice departure then from Coldplay/ Elbow analogies. 8/10
7) The Rest of the World Has Gone Home: Essentially an acoustic Liam Fray song, again perhaps a hark back to earlier days when it was just Fray and his guitar. Pleasant enough, perhaps should have been a b-side though (albeit a good one). 6/10
8) Sycophant: Possible single? By this point we know the formula, Coldplay given abit more energy, but not sacrificing the melancholy. Liam certainly nails his vocals, and lyrically this is one of the stronger efforts. 9/10
9) Cameo Brooch: The Chorus is very predictable with comforting lyrics, but we can't take anything away from this slow song, probably the strongest tune on the album. The verse certainly isn't comforting, yet the melodies compliment each other very nicely as does the loud/quiet dynamic, and the production is spot on - Buller has done well not to whack on an orchestra onto the track as must have been tempting. Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) would be jealous. 10/10
10) Scratch My Name Upon Your Lips: The album finally gets some much needed rock n roll. In terms of sound its not unlike the towering 'Cavorting', but good as that song is, there is much more depth here so it doesn't feel out of place. Subdued vocals work very well in conjunction with those dark 'woah-oh's we should be familiar with by now. Another fine effort. 9/10
11) Last of the Ladies: Doesn't really bring anything new to the table, a piano ballad that just needs a little something extra lyrically to bring it up to the same standard as the other songs here. The New Order reference in particularly seems just abit too immature for Falcon. 5/10
12) Will It Be This Way Forever?: Dark and heavier than elsewhere but of course not bereft of strings and piano. As track 12 it works not because its a natural closer (may indeed have been a better opener), but because it is uniquely the Courteeners. No other band around could create this song. 9/10
No doubt the album will bring about criticisms from those who wanted St. Jude part II (those so inclined should listen to the Second Folio CD of the Deluxe edition - not bad but all too stagnant). Its long been time for bands to abandon the good ship Albion and her Jam-Come-La's indie. The Courteeners, whilst they may not have produced the finest album ever, have certainly come along way and silenced critics who branded them as just another lad rock band without losing their identity, and that is praise for any band.
The latest from The Courteeners is a brilliant album, equally as good, if not better than their debut, St. Jude. There are more acoustic-type songs than rockers on this album, but that isn't a problem, especially since the acoustic sngs included here are superb, lyrically and melodically. Particular highlights for me include "Cameo Broach" and "The Rest Of the World Has Gone Home". There are some rockers, such as "You Overdid It Doll" (which should have easily got to number 1!!) and "Sycophant" which is also brilliant. "Will It Be This Way Forever?", the albums closing track could be the new James Bond theme tune!!
Highly recommended for Courteeners fans and for fans of rock and Britpop in the vein of Oasis, Pulp, Blur etc.