- 22 Jan 20
Stuart Clark applauds their everything including the kitchen-sink approach, and references to Gazza's '96 wonder goal
While there was a time when the ‘Oasis tribute act’ taunts were probably warranted, the past couple of years have seen the Courteeners develop into a potent force capable of filling 50,000-capacity English stadiums in their own right.
Taking their time with the follow-up to 2016’s Mapping The Rendezvous, their sixth album kicks off in the most literal sense with ‘Heart Attack’, a scuzzy electro glam stomper that owes as much to Trent Reznor (no, really!) as it does either of the Gallaghers.
The everything including the kitchen-sink trick is repeated on ‘Previous Parties’ and ‘The Joy Of Missing Out’, which is propelled by a bassline of Joy Division-esque proportions. There's definitely something in those Mancunian waters...
‘Heavy Jacket’ starts with some Chas ‘n’ Dave-y piano and strings and ends in a squall of distorted guitars, while 1970’s funkiness abounds on the More. Again. Forever. title-track, a curious John Cooper Clarke/Chic hybrid that finds Liam Frey railing against the “smug twats” out there. This is a man you do like when he's angry.
‘Better Man’ finds them in more conventional jangly guitar ‘n’ mandolin mode, with an emotive “I’m trying to be a better man/ Whatever that is” refrain, which come the summer 40,000 people will be bellowing back at them.
The strings return on ‘Hanging Off Your Cloud’, a big phones in the air ballad that grows and grows – and then grows some more. If you’ve had your heart shattered into a trillion tiny pieces as Fray appears to have had, you might as well get a decent tune out of it.
While a master of the terrace chorus, the singer gives vent to his more sensitive side again on ‘One Day At A Time’, another song hand-tooled for large open air spaces.
More. Again. Forever. ends with the appropriately defiant 'Take It On The Chin'; the "I'd rather be in the dentist's chair with Sir Paul Gascoigne in the summer of '96" part of which alludes to the greatest goal Eng-er-land have ever put in the Scottish net.
More sonically adventurous than the Courteeners have ever been before, More. Again. Forever. is the sound of band enjoying their conquering heroes status while still endeavouring to make their most audacious record yet.