The current environment of lacklustre pop dominating our soundwaves has left much to be desired for old fans of Oasis, Blur and all the rest of the so-called Britpop revolution. Gone are the days where the Gallagher brothers would openly insult each other in public or Jarvis Cocker could get his bum out in front of Michael Jackson. Instead we’re left with Ed Sheeran’s Game of Thrones cameos and Post Malone’s latest tattoos. However, small pockets of this early nineties’ euphoria are still present. And as many fans of the band will testify, that euphoria follows Courteeners.

Courteeners have remained modern pop’s anomaly. They have a limited social media presence, never had a #1 album, and lack mainstream attention. Yet they consistently go gold, maintain their cult following, and have shown that they can headline big gigs- selling 50,000 tickets in under four hours at Heaton Park last year. Moreover, if you speak to some of the religious fanatics that follow the band around – which I must confess, I am one of – they swear by incredible live experiences and unbelievable anthems.

But that doesn’t mean that Courteeners don’t have a lot to prove coming into their sixth studio album. After the mediocre rewired version of St Jude two years ago, and the tame Mapping the Rendezvous from three years ago, the four-piece from Manchester need to prove that they still reign supreme over their empire. More. Again. Forever does exactly this whilst representing an attempt to differentiate themselves from their indie heritage.

Thumping opener ‘Heart Attack’ channels the band’s classic track ‘Cavorting’, with its electronic sound and extravagant guitar solos sure to please old fans. Lead single ‘Heavy Jacket’ excites with its poetic lyrics; ‘wake up one day with Van Gogh’s hands but nothing between the ears’, but keeps fans grounded with its catchy chorus and high tempo. ‘Hanging Off Your Cloud’ stands out completely, with its poignant orchestral pace and emotional lyrics living up to the anticipation built by the song’s appearance on some of the band’s recent live dates. ‘Previous Parties’ is built for fans to dance around to, with its sexy feel reminiscent of old track ‘Modern Love’.

The album maintains the electric rock’n’roll flair the band are famous for yet highlights a new troubled romantic side to lead singer Liam Frays writing. It encompasses what many might see as a blend between the distinct styles of fan favourite St Jude and the better-received ends of Mapping the Rendezvous.  

Admittedly, the album does have a few mediocre tracks towards the back end, with ‘One Day at a Time’ failing to please, but the album recovers with final ballad ‘Is Heaven Even Worth It?’

The band already have a few dates sold out for mid-February at Manchester’s Albert Hall and Liverpool’s O2 Academy, but it’s likely that a full tour will soon accompany the release of the album.

4 stars

Image Credit: Ignition Records

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