The Courteeners are a four piece band hailing from Manchester and have been given the dreaded task of being the 21st century flag bearers of the now infamous Manchester music scene. They can now be considered as veterans seeing as this latest release is their fifth studio album. Famed for huge rocking hits about relationships and growing up as a working class lad in his local area, Liam Fray has developed quite the fan base and the hype for this album has been unbridled. Will it have a Not Nineteen Forever hit on it? If the singles are anything to go by, I highly doubt it, but let’s see what they’ve got for us.
Lucifer’s Dream – 8/10
Groovy and upbeat guitar riff gives you promising signs for the song but the vocals in the verse really frustrate me. I have no idea why Liam Fray decides doing this god awful whisper singing thing is a good idea? It’s hideous basically and he should stop immediately. Conveniently, once he does stop and sings a bit more like himself the song improves massively. A really good chorus which will definitely be a big hit on their tour and around festivals. Sounds a lot like the old Courteeners sound which is exactly what people have been striving for. It’s a good opener and without the verse vocals it would’ve got a very high rating.
Kitchen – 2/10
Just, what the hell is this? When he tweeted about how proud he was of this song I was very excited, completely ignoring how much of an insufferable big head he is and how he thinks he’s god’s gift to earth. Contender for the worst chorus of the year in all honesty, singing about fridges won’t make you a winner Liam come on mate. The song has become a bit of a joke really considering how much the sound of it is modelled on the 1975, a band who have been about for about 7 years less than The Courteeners yet they’re already having their content basically stolen from them. Just end the suffering now please.
No One Will Ever Replace Us – 3/10
Meaningless and frustrating lyrics once again behind a highly tuned guitar which actually sounds like something from the cutting room floor of The Cribs or The Strokes, just nowhere near as good. Another mind numbingly woeful chorus, and this was a single? Like Liam really thought this would be a highlight of this album? Oh god it better not be. There’s no change up at all, it’s all the same tempo and all the same rubbish. The only positive I can give it? It’s better than Kitchen, but I think Nickelback have released better songs than Kitchen so that’s not saying much.
De La Salle – 4/10
Oh great, here we have Liam Fray thinking he’s Mr Noel Gallagher as he picks up an acoustic guitar and tries his very hardest to be a wordsmith. NOPE. Not a chance. What frustrates me about this song is that he doesn’t know how to sing it, like he’s not sure if he wants to sound like he’s from Manchester or like he’s from London, make your mind up please Liam. Dull is the best word I’d use to describe this. Lifeless is also another accurate representation of this snooze fest. Because it’s not absolutely horrendous, I’ll rank it higher than the previous two, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Tip Toes – 5/10
Good drums, more like it with the old sound where the bangers were released like there was no tomorrow. The guitar riff is a step in the right direction too, even if it is a bit cheesy. With that being said, any song with the title ‘Tip Toes’ isn’t going to be a hard hitting piece of genius is it? I don’t know what Liam Fray has done to his voice but I don’t like it, he needs to stop with the high pitch now as well as the creepy whispering, please just stick to what you’re good at. The song does drag in all honesty and it is a partial relief when it’s over. It’s okay, nothing less and certainly nothing more. Meh would be a solid word to describe my feelings towards it.
Not For Tomorrow – 4/10
Proper rock and roll guitar riff sounds hardcore and has that passion and energy about it which we’ve come to expect from this band. It does die down in the verse and then dies even more in the pre-chorus. The chorus is dull and far from memorable, the only thing I like about this song is the 10 second stints where we have the lead guitar take centre stage. I hate comparing it to this but it reminds me of Queens Of The Stone Age, particularly the chorus and the solo, but the quality is nowhere near the level of the American rockers. Another poor song.
Finest Hour – 2/10
Matty Healy and the 1975 do a g… Oh wait this isn’t them? Could’ve fooled me. How you can copy a band’s sound this blatantly is beyond me and quite frankly I don’t think Liam Fray has the vocal range to pull these off, like not even remotely. Hand on heart honesty here, I can’t remember a single lyric from this song, whether it be verse or chorus nothing sticks out to me. Just plain and unoriginal. Even the guitars sound like the 1975 it’s just painful to listen to.
The Dilettante – 7.5/10
I like the synth drums in the background which add a nice and constant tempo to the song while the keys are soft and rhythmic to go alongside it. A very local and working class feel to the vocals and the lyrics which is something the band have modelled themselves on. “Marry a French girl and improve my verbs” is an interesting lyric but I kind of like it. I do like how it kicks into life in the chorus, at least there’s an actual change to the dynamic on this song. Definitely one of the better songs on this album and it’s a pleasant listen really, the chorus is catchy and bouncy. This is the only true time that they’ve sounded like a cool modern band on this album.
Modern Love – 5/10
More upbeat again and has a good bop to it with the drums and guitar riff going in nice harmony together. The chorus is so cheesy I had to get my grater out, cringed all the way through it especially that god awful background melody. The verses are cool enough to make me sort of forgive the plain chorus but it won’t be ignored in my critique. The bridge is just odd, his vocals don’t match the backing track at all and he just sounds so out of place. So, the verses are good but that’s about it really, the rest is dry or unnecessary. Not great, not terrible.
Most Important – 4/10
Drum beat sounds like something out of George of the Jungle and when the guitar comes in as well as the vocals it’s just bizarre. They have no correlation whatsoever and it is really off-putting. It’s once again a song where we have no change from verse to chorus other than a minute pause before the same old drums and the same old riff. It’s not until the second verse where we seem to have a bit more of a band cohesive when the drums change up ever so slightly. Liam’s vocals strain towards the end of the verse and his weakness shows, he seems a relieved man that the chorus kicks in because I don’t think he could go any higher. For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed the last minute, it was a nice burst of energy and the instrumentation was well executed, but it begs the question of why couldn’t it be like that from the start? Who knows but other than that minute, the song is far from memorable and becomes a bit of a snoozer.
The 17th – 2/10
Lead single and just why? As far as comebacks go, this is right up there with the worst. It’s almost as bad as when Oasis came back from Be Here Now to that monstrosity we call Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, woeful. His voice in this is awful, he’s trying to sound sexy and it makes my skin crawl. He’s far from helped by the instrumental which screams The 1975 and has such a poor attempt at cheesy pop, something which fails on a grand scale. How is this the same band that wrote Notion? Or Not Nineteen Forever? It’s truly baffling how much he’s sold out, either that or he thinks he’s Lennon; and I can assure you that he certainly isn’t that. Also, why is it 5 minutes long? It’s just a boring dragged out progression which builds into a hot mess of nothingness before fading into irrelevancy again. Bore off, what a god awful way to not only end an album, but to sell an album.
Overall – 4/10
Genuinely, I think a 4/10 is very generous for this. To have TWO songs on an entire album which are actually listenable is a cardinal sin, especially for a band with a reputation like The Courteeners. I will tell you exactly why this is so bad, it’s because Liam Fray is attempting to enter the unknown realm of indie/alt music, and I’ll let you into a little secret of mine. HE DOESN’T HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO THAT. Yes he’s a good guitarist but he can’t make that clean sound which has become a trademark of that genre and he doesn’t have the voice to sound cool doing it. This album is a serious catastrophe and it’s a shame to dish dirt on a band I once respected dearly for their working class honesty and the raw energy they had. Now? It’s all so plastic and I don’t like it one bit.