By Sam Tornow, Editorial Director
[Flying Nun; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Silver Velvet”, “Lost Boys”, “Frankie”
The Courtneys are not asking much of the listener. Their candy-coated brand of slacker rock is easily digestible and can slip into the background of a light-hearted conversation. The Canadian-trio is not attempting to make the latest mind-boggling, metaphysical musical release that will squeeze every last gyzym of creativity out of the industry; No, no, no. With the group’s second full-length, The Courtneys II, all the band is asking of the listener is to chill the heck out.
It’s been four years since the band’s last release, and Cute Courtney, Classic Courtney and Crazy Courtney (if you’re curious as to which one you are, the band has graciously blessed us with an online quiz), have had their hands full with touring and label changes. After finally settling down with the illustrious Flying Nun Records and opening for similar slackers Mac DeMarco and Tegan and Sara, the group celebrates their success with a familiar release.
II further develops on the equation of the group; Speed-limit abiding bass lines, dreamy nostalgic guitar riffs and childish lyrics carried out by Jen Twynn Payne (aka Cute Courtney). Eighth-note drum beats push on under the chillax hum of the guitars for nearly the entire duration, avoiding repetition with deliberately silly lyrics. “You look just like you did in 1986 / And that’s why you’re vampire teenage boyfriend”, Payne sings on “Lost Boys”, in a similar tone as a young Allison Wolfe.
For what The Courtneys are trying to do, they’re doing it pretty dang well. Sure, a little more musical variety would not be turned away, but it’s kind of charming in the same way as waking up in the summer to the same dead grass and blue skies every day is. Especially catchy tracks like “Silver Velvet” and “Frankie”, which bookend the album, prove how the subtle tweaks in drum tone or vocal melodies are enough to keep the band interesting for all 38 minutes.
It wouldn’t be difficult for II to weasel its way into your most played albums of 2017 without you even noticing; It’s easy to listen to, consistently fun and flows masterfully. It isn’t without its flaws, but from an album that asks only of the listener to relax, it’s a fair trade.