With Liam and Noel on trial separation for the time being (their ‘will they, won’t they’ over the years boasting more ups and downs than a Brangelina biog) there’s an opening for a gutsy rock ‘n’ roll boy band to keep the post-pub punters in good voice. Step forward The Courteeners, back from being brutally beaten into submission by critics over dreadfully retro debut St Jude yet kept afloat by increasing popularity in their hometown of Manchester.
As adoration goes it’s pretty baffling, but let’s not forget this place has a tendency to over-revel in a romantic nostalgia for all of its musical achievements past – the opening of Peter Hook’s Hacienda-alike The Factory counts as the most recent testament to that. In fact you can’t help but feel that a large number of the city’s music fans are crying out for it to birth another Oasis or Stone Roses, and with Falcon it’s clear that Liam Fray reckons his bunch are the blokes for the job.
First to the sighs of relief: this second offering from the foursome is a marked improvement on their first in that it showcases a newly discovered emotional depth to Fray’s songwriting, string-swept first track The Opener finding the frontman in good voice as he professes his love for his hometown – “You were made for me and I was made for you…my heart is here to stay” he croons. It’s an impressive start, but it’s not long before the cracks begin to appear; a run of unimaginative melodies and simplistic lyrics filling the majority of the tracks.
We’re not asking for Wilde-esque musings here, but talk of a “space cadet dressed in fibreglass”, plans to “fuck right off into the middle of the sky” and perhaps most puerile “I’m still young/ I need life more than I need a wife/ the good times are calling me” are so pitiful they make Lady GaGa‘s pen to paper sound like poetry.
The Courteeners’ obsessive Oasis-aping has thankfully pretty much disappeared this time around – and about bloody time. But it’s been replaced by songs that sound a bit like Glasvegas, U2 and most of all Elbow. For comeback single You Overdid It Doll, however, there’s a painful attempt at disco that is so Reverend And The Makers you can actually picture Jon McClure’s skinny behind shaking along in time to the beat.
So we’ve got to ask: When will The Courteeners actually be themselves? We know they can do it; piano-backed Last Of The Ladies and thundering finale Will It Be This Way Forever are both striking in their stark honesty and hint at a band that could produce more interesting records than the dumb bravado anthems that make up the majority of their output. If only they worked a little harder at it, they could be so much more than indie fodder for those who find Kasabian‘s recent work a little too experimental.