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Courteeners - More. Again. Forever. (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 Written by Graeme Marsh

On the Courteeners’ sixth studio album. ‘More. Again. Forever.’, frontman Liam Fray dips a toe into new waters. Having been slapped with the ‘lad rock’ tag since the release of their 2008 debut ‘St. Jude’, the Mancunians have outlasted a number of their peers simply because, aside from the odd foray into the unknown, they’re better at delivering what’s expected of them.

Fray had promised some “curveballs” this time round, adding that the new record would be “bolder” as well as “braver” and “more adventurous”. He sought to create a connection with an audience stuck in the here and now, swallowed up by the “incessant nature of life”, something social media can take a lot of credit for.

Four singles heralded the arrival of the album, two of them echoing Fray’s claims of a fresh start and the other two reminding us of their past.

The title track is the biggest surprise, arriving built on a mesmerising bass riff and dance beat with more in common with Fujiya and Miyagi or LCD Soundsystem than the Courteeners. To round things off its spoken narrative sits handsomely on top for a riveting listen. 

The singles also show that Fray can write ballads—the soppy Hanging Off Your Cloud is testament to this—but album track One Day At A Time, which also trades in the band’s taste for anthemic instrumentation, is arguably even more enchanting. 

Another single, Heavy Jacket, questions modern life as Fray proclaims “this is not your home anymore”. Here the band morph into latter day Editors, but it’s the feverishly catchy, upbeat, joyous Better Man that’s the pick of the early releases, possessing the capacity to lift a low mood.

Elsewhere, it’s a mixed bag but an entertaining one. Opener Heart Attack jolts the album into action like a defibrillator plugged into electric guitars, while The Joy Of Missing Out ramps up the speed to again recall the band’s formative glories. Previous Parties is abrasively raucous, and the energetic Take It on the Chin sounds like a dead ringer for Feeder. Both tracks do little to dispel the ‘lad rock’ term, with nods to two footballing greats in George Best and a prematurely knighted Paul Gascoigne respectively.

But as the string-led Is Heaven Even Worth It? closes the album it’s as though Fray is telling us that he can take the band in any direction he wants. Admirably, ‘More. Again. Forever.’ tries plenty of things we might not expect from a Courteeners album. And yet its diversity also makes for an inconsistent ride, one that is perhaps calling out for a firmer hand on the wheel. In Better Man, though, radio stations must surely have a new go-to Courteeners track that might stop them forever flogging Not Nineteen Forever.

The Courteeners Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 30 2020 - LONDON Pryzm
Tue February 11 2020 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett Student Union
Thu February 13 2020 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Sat February 15 2020 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sun February 16 2020 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Fri July 10 2020 - GLASGOW Green

Click here to compare & buy The Courteeners Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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