Coming off of a well-received debut in 2013 on their local label Hockey Dad, this Vancouver trio struck out on a pilgrimage to their version of Mecca in New Zealand-based Flying Nun Records. Witnessing The Courtneys’ commitment firsthand, the venerable label took the trio into their roster for their follow up album. Although the influence was already apparent, The Courtneys II is bursting with the fuzzy jangle pop that made the label so integral to underground music for the past 36 years.
Coursing through these ten tracks is the earnest optimism always propelled by an undeniable rhythm. In the hands of other artists, songs about playing show after show come off as a joyless trudge. “Tour” changes that narrative, declaring their unabashed freedom despite the effort: “It’s time for us to let go/ slack off and hit the open road/ driving down the Western sea/ The sun, it gets higher, higher”. The ode to the barren chill of “Minnesota” is hewed from a similar cloth, finding positivity in an untenable situation of distance and longing. The Courtneys are not a band who sweats the small stuff, but there is an undercurrent of consideration to their lyrics that pairs ideally with those irresistible hooks.
Yes, let’s chat about those wall-to-wall hooks that inhabit every corner of The Courtneys II. From the open hum of “Silver Velvet”, the Flying Nun sound proudly stands out in its brightest regalia, rattling into your consciousness with a mighty inevitability. Some overcast tones seemingly from their Pacific Northwest upbringing trickle into tracks like “Mars Attacks”, giving a heartfelt, minor chord mixture of The Clean and Sleater-Kinney. The Courtneys’ rock backbone is most pronounced on “Lost Boys”, a seven-minute ode to the 80s film and those ageless “vampire teenage boyfriends”. They construct a coda here as expansive as the ocean, droning with a gradual lavish fadeout. The distance from British Columbia to New Zealand is far, but The Courtneys close that vastness with an album of sincere joy and accomplishment.