If any one band underlines the sheer global scale of this garage punk / indie pop / DIY / whatever-the-hell underground then it’s The Courtneys.
Born in Vancouver, Canada, the trio’s debut was picked up by LA-based imprint Burger Records before becoming a cult sensation. Seminal New Zealand label Flying Nun – The Clean, The Chills et al – picked up a copy, liked what they heard, and snapped up the band.
Which brings us straight to ‘The Courtneys II’. A stripped down title from a group who deal in stripped down songwriting, it’s infused with an incredible, unrelenting energy.
Opening cut ‘Silver Velvet’ emerges from blazing feedback, before evolving into an alternative top-down driving anthem – all cool-as-hell vocals, King Kong drums, and slashing guitar lines. ‘Minnesota’ seems to conjure the vast open space of the Mid-West in a fuzz punk framework, while the chugging bass-line that drives ‘25’ could be straight from the Stranglers songbook.
There’s a sense of perpetual motion at work in ‘The Courtneys II’, a feeling of continually being on the move. Perhaps it’s those subtle Krautrock references, or maybe it’s born from the touring that followed their debut, but it adds to a visceral, thrilling aural experience.
Flipping rock’s self-mythologising aspects on their head, The Courtneys seem to approach music from a new, vivid and extremely feminine angle.
‘Lost Boys’ is the album’s longest track, and perhaps it’s most fulfilling, uniting that impish sense of humour to lacerate male ego.
Clashing glam drums introduce guitar lines that zip across sands like out of control dune buggies, before The Courtneys breeze into a chorus that kills in every respect: “You look just like you did in 1986 and that’s why you’re a vampire teenage boyfriend…”
A record that raises as many smiles as it does questions, The Courtneys channel more wit, fun, humour, and intelligence into ‘The Courtneys II’ than most bands manage in their entire discography. Go seek it out.
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