If Buffy The Vampire Slayer was still hanging out at The Bronze, reveling in the by-gone glories of 90's college misadventures and delivering one-liners and roundhouse-kicks to the un-dead, then The Courtneys might the be band that played The Bronze’s stage. Not just because of their references to ‘vampire teenage boyfriends’. The Vancouver power trio play a stripped back, sun-kissed and simple blend of 60's girl-band pop and 90's slacker rock. In an era where every band wants to carve out their own sub-genre, The Courtneys’ nostalgia-caked plug-in-and-play aesthetic acts like a fresh breeze in a crypt.
Though the changes are subtle, their has definitely been a development since the three-piece's debut release. This new album is a less abrasive creature, trading in some of the Bikini Kill roughness for a taste of the punkier 80's new wave. Drummer Jen Twynn Payne (AKA ‘Cute Courtney’) is still the vocals queen, mustering enough angst for a thousand high school spats, but this time round The Courtneys have embraced the backing vocals of guitarist Courtney Loove and bassist Sydney Koke (‘Classic Courtney’ and ‘Crazy Courtney’). This gives their new material a wider, stoned-out cheerleaders vibe.
Generation X-style opening track Silver Velvet sums up their ever-so-slight change of sound, beggining the whir of Loove’s garage-brand distortion and then snapping into a running beat layered onto a head-bopping bassline. Twynn Payne’s easy-going vocals are drenched in echo, less Kathleen Hanna and more Patty Donahue. It slides into a feel-good chorus that sticks like spilled beer, with all three Courtneys taking a piece of the action. It’s a track that belongs on those long-forgotten mixtape cassettes you sometimes find down the back of student house sofas.
Things pretty much follow the same format from there. Ten upbeat musings on dreamy boyfriends and the trials of being an off-the-wall youth. The band’s penchant for songs about celebrity crushes is still going strong (their first EP was named Keanu Reeves after all), most obvious in Lost Boys, a love letter of Keifer Sutherland’s 1986 vampiric lothario. They also touch on the topic of pulpy movies, both in Lost Boys and the bouncy Mars Attacks. In fact, The album captures just about every stereotype you can tie to 80's and 90's teenage nostalgia, and revels in that cinematic daydream, making you feel blissfully safe. They are the sound of a time most of us know only from the old movies; a time of high school dances, endless summers and boundless optimism, before the cynicism and pessimistic fog took over. The Courtneys make you feel like you’re still eighteen, at the coolest house party ever where the beer is free and every choice you make is important. That’s a feeling that’s in dire need right now, this album delivers it with a rebel’s smirk and a devil-may-care attitude.
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