Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: Flying Nun
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
The Courtneys are charmingly droll. The Vancouver trio includes but one Courtney, née Courtney Garvin, who rips vivid fuzz-guitar riffs alongside bassist Sydney Koke and singer/drummer Jen Twynn Payne. Their music--a bit gray, slightly lopsided--recalls velvety 1980s kiwi acts such as the Clean and Look Blue Go Purple. Crucially, though, the Courtneys bust out of the ramshackle Dunedin sound with bold, driving arrangements and thrilling pop sense.
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.
The Courtneys aptly eschew any showy presentation on The Courtneys II, as it depicts a fitting continuation of the Vancouver band's debut set of melodic power pop. It may give the idea that the trio succumb to slackened discipline, that they've honed a formula so well that they're confident enough to leave an open interpretation. And at first glance the changes are minimal: Jenn Twynn Payne still has an ear for romantic-minded accounts, and still conveys these confessionals with a gushing jubilance even if things never seem to go her way.
A pleasantly fuzzed indie rock trio from the Pacific Northwest, the Courtneys made their debut in 2013 with a self-titled set that revealed a strong melodic sense and an affinity for hooky indie pop of the Flying Nun variety. Two years later, the hard-working Vancouver band earned a roster spot on that very label after impressing the venerable Kiwi pop empire during a tour of Australia and New Zealand. Their Flying Nun-issued follow-up, The Courtneys II, expands on the promise of their debut with ten more riffy odes to '90s pop culture, good times, good friends, and errant slackerdom.
The Courtneys II is a lovely listen. Both feel-good and charmingly gritty, the Courtneys' sophomore album is a succinct followup to their 2013 self-titled debut. Hooky riffs, brawny bass, and drummer/lead singer Jen Twynn Payne's satisfyingly sweet vocals -- the band's best bits -- are right at the forefront throughout the effort, starting with opener "Silver Velvet.
On The Courtneys' sophomore album II, we ride shotgun in a 1986 Chevrolet van with the band as they cruise down the road en route to their next gig. Jen Twynn Payne (drums, vocals) is driving and Courtney Loove (guitar, vocals) and Sydney Koke (bass, vocals) relax in the back seat and stare out the window, squinting at the bright sun. So The Courtneys don't set this exact scene— the closest we get to it is in "Tour" when they sing, "It's time for us to let it go, slack off and hit the open road." But the band's power-pop tracks about love and figuring out adulthood roll steadily one after the other like the unfaltering rotations of tires on an unobstructed roadway.
Issued by tiny Vancouver indie label Hockey Dad, The Courtneys' sparky, self-titled 2013 debut featured lovelorn odes to Keanu Reeves and protest songs bemoaning minimum wage subsistence. Intrigued by the enthusiastic reviews aligning the all-girl trio with Dunedin sound pioneers such as The Clean, Flying Nun label boss Roger Shepherd took them under his wing and has now sponsored their second release. For the most part, Courtneys II takes up from where their eponymous debut left off.
Growing up is a normal part of life. Your friends know it, your heroes know it, and the Courtneys sure do, too. The Courtneys II shows that coming-of-age element by sapping the energy that made the band’s debut so great. Instead of feeling like the band hit a candy shop, leaving with Jolly Ranchers and packs of Nerds, they’ve become people who have realized how boring the long road of life is.