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The Courteeners - St Jude

The Courteeners, St Jude

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

WE’VE been here so many times before over the past few years that it’s easier just to go through the checklist…

You want a Manchester-based indie-rock outfit with plenty of attitude? Check.

How about a lead singer capable of making pointed social commentary that speaks of dissatisfaction with modern life? Check.

What about lively guitar hooks that mix melody with fire and flit in and out with some brilliant solos? Check.

And, finally, how about a band that draws easy and sometimes favourable comparisons with everyone from Oasis and The Libertines to The Smiths and The Arctic Monkeys. Check.

No what to expect? That’s not to say The Courteeners’ debut St Jude is a bad album, merely formulaic. And arriving at a time when the formula is beginning to require a shake-up, it’s just the latest “hotly anticipated” release in a calendar littered with such breakthrough offerings.

On the plus side, The Courteeners do have a brashness and confidence that means they will get noticed. They’re loud, they’re clearly not afraid to speak their mind and with songs like former single Not Nineteen Forever, they’re capable of delivering tracks that are punchy, easy on the ear and which could coast onto the playlists of Radio 1 and Xfm radio stations. It’s just we were hoping for more.

The formula is established from the start with the driving indie rock of Aftershow, a bitter lament at a failed relationship that pulls no punches.

Things get better on the melodic piledriver that is Cavorting, a song that’s marked by the bracing honest of Liam Fray’s lyrics: “Your club is full of over-rated, dehydrated, goggle eyed girls and they’re trying to stare at me but their eyes are rattling and they’re struggling to see.”

Bide Your Time also boasts some cheeky melodies, even though Fray’s brash vocal style doesn’t always compliment them that well. But it’s another highlight, especially once it finds its stride.

But thereafter, it’s all pretty similar. What Took You So Long? is rousing, for sure, but also formulaic, Please Don’t channels the mid-tempo style of Arctic Monkeys’ Flourescent Adolescent, while If It Wasn’t For Me careers forth in a dizzying wave of dance-rock energy that’s head-rush inducing.

Each song provokes an easy comparison, whether it’s the storytelling style of Artic Monkeys, the brashness of Oasis and/or Kasabian, or the pub-friendly chant-along style of Kaiser Chiefs. There are many more.

What makes The Courteeners different, slightly, is the unapolgetic frankness of the lyrics. They’re unrelentingly bolshy and sometimes likely to put noses out of joint. And while some of what it has to say is worth hearing, some of it is just plain pretentious.

For all of St Jude‘s endeavour, it’s still an average debut at best.

Download picks: Not Nineteen Forever, Please Don’t, Cavorting, What Took You So Long?

Track listing:

  1. Aftershow
  2. Cavorting
  3. Bide Your Time
  4. What Took You So Long?
  5. Please Don’t
  6. If It Wasn’t For Me
  7. No You Didn’t, No You Don’t
  8. How Come
  9. Kings Of The New Road
  10. Not Nineteen Forever
  11. Fallowfield Hillbilly
  12. Yesterday, Today & Probably Tomorrow