vrijdag 27 september 2013

Anna. The Courteeners

This record was sitting on my pile of new records for quite some time. Not beneath it, but somewhere in the middle coming up again and again. Every time it came by I thought, I should write a review of this and forgot about it again and again. Not special enough? No, it isn't that, although Anna is not special, as in unique, nor is it meant to be. The Courteeners present a pleasant mix of pop with a shot of rock and Britpop with melodies that sort of have this little hooks that attach themselves in the brain. Without being completely unique, far from. Fans of bands like Handsome Poets, Go Back To The Zoo, The Rifles, to name but a few, should continue reading for sure.

The Courteeners is a band from Manchester. Anna is its third album after 'St. Jude' (2008) and 'Falcon' (2010). Short album titles is an evident The Courteeners hobby. Song titles are allowed (a little) longer. On Anna the band presents itself as a rocking outfit with 80s dance beats under the thick guitar layers. For the most The Courteeners draw neatly between the lines, but as long as that happens with superb melodies there's nothing wrong with that. Anna offers these in abundance.

Starting off with two perfect popsongs, it is in 'Van der Graaff', that the music on Anna gets a bite. Now any song referring to Peter Hammill's vehicle, one that I can barely listen to, I'll admit, needs a bite. The guitars get more of an edge and the melody also goes in and out of the perfect pop song. It is at moments like this that Anna gets something extra that makes it stand out from the fierce competition.

In 'When you want something you can't have' The Couteeners obviously strive for something higher. Liam Fray aims for Al Stewart singing and coming a long way, while the harmonies are in between The Beatles and The Kinks. The song is an amalgam of musical styles, but coherent in its execution and outcome. The exuberant intro to 'Welcome to the rave', reminding me of Spector, comes as a total surprise after the introspection of 'When you want something ...'. The keyboard (or heavily treated guitar) jumps on the listener, starting off a party song full of dynamics. The way the song switches in mood from soft to loud, shows vision and originality, something that wins me over for The Courteeners and Anna a little more.

Taking the album in as a whole, perhaps Anna is a little too much up beat for my taste, but this takes nothing away from the many strong melodic songs that it hosts. 'Save Rosemary in time' is uncannily close to a Handsome Poets song. Its fans ought really to find their way to Anna. Another winner, with another sonic treatment of the guitar, that makes Anna more fun to listen to again.

The fun thing of Anna is that with the passing of songs I am waiting for a song that is less potent, but that doesn't happen. The next one can compete with the previous each time. Perhaps the ballad 'Marquee', doesn't, but this song does offer the necessary variation Anna needs.

Wrapping up, if I were the Anna after whom the album was titled I'd be in my "nopjes", as the Dutch say. Very melodic and rocking out in the right places at the same time. Sounds like a pop/rock winner to me.


You can listen to 'Are you in love with a notion' here.

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