- by Steve Ricciutti Release Date:2017-02-17 Label: Flying Nun
Vancouver’s The Courtney’s release their second album this week and it’s a continuation of their joyful, no frills power-pop, with mixed results. The group received an indie stamp of approval by joining the Flying Nun stable, slotting them in with label mates who share simpatico aesthetic. This new effort The Courtneys II is comprised of some previously released singles as well as new tracks recorded over the last three years or so, and it shows some growth, even as some is still needed.
Previously released single “Lost Boys” is one of two definitive highlights, a song about the classic 80’s movie with the utterly appealing chorus of, “You look just like you did in 1986, and that’s why you’re my vampire teenage boyfriend.” Midway through, drummer/vocalist Jen Twynn Payne begins to chant the chorus, begetting the steady build up of a tidal wave that crashes down in the form of nearly three minutes of unexpected sonic overload crescendo from guitarist Courtney Loove and bassist Sydney Koke. This extended fade out is the best part of the song; beginning with the cultural cool of the chorus and ending with the wordless groove that elevates this song above the formulaic sound they tend to embrace. Indeed, more of this kind of exploration would have made this album that much better.
The second ace is opener “Silver Velvet” with a similarly addictive and clever chorus and the cozy combination of charming pop sparkle and fundamental four-on-the-floor reliability. There’s clearly a reason the cover is a close-up of fluffy pink cotton candy. Hopefully, by the time The Courtneys III comes out, they’ll have started browsing beyond the candy aisle.
“Iron Deficiency” brings to mind a less heavy L7 with socio-political lyrics and a driving melody, and “Mars Attacks,” yet another movie-themed song, is buttressed by well-placed harmonies. Here’s the rub: had those aforementioned two been coupled with these or any two of the other numbers, it would have been a superb four-song EP. That’s how good, yet limited, The Courtneys are at this stage.
On the whole, however, too many songs sound the same, and the blur that occurs from extended listens never really spins into focus enough to distinguish enough of these songs from one another. Still, there are some hints on this effort that the band is stretching their boundaries beyond the three-piece basic approach that permeates this sophomore effort. Until then, this is a solid if predictable collection of power pop that leaves you wanting more; more from the band, not more of the same.