The difficult second album wasn’t a difficulty at all for The Courteeners as “Falcon” was released to a positive response from critics and fans alike. Songs about unforgettable nights out, fleeting romances and ‘never forgetting where home is’ reigned supreme, and were showcased through rousing choruses and stadium designed anthems. I’ve come to the realisation that for many bands it is not always the second album that is the problem; instead the third album is usually more of an issue. If the first two albums followed a similar pattern to one another, then the band will find themselves having to decide whether to do more of the same or to try something different.
The Courteeners’ third album: “Anna” was released earlier this year to mixed reviews from critics, and mixed responses from fans. One of the issues with the new album, which seemed to earn the ire of fans, is the ‘new wave’ sound the band employed. However the familiar identity established by the previous albums is still very much a presence in the new material. I bought the album in spite of the lukewarm response, and actually found it to be a solid effort, with some real stand-out tracks. One such track has become the band’s choice for the second single: ‘Van Der Graaff’.
‘Van Der Graaff’ is a track that marries the band’s new sound and Liam Fray’s salty phrases (Solitude is a place on earth/ and I’ve got a season ticket). The song opens on a twinkling synthesiser, emulating the sound of the electrical charge of a Van Der Graaff generator, before the drums and guitars kick in and a soaring ‘woah, woah’ vocal refrain hovers above the instruments. The instantly recognisable introduction to this track should act as a call-to-arms for fans at live gigs to lend their voices to this refrain. References to Van Der Graaff generators and rounder’s bats in the early verses provoke reminiscences to school days, which is surely the song’s intent.
This song is one of the band’s best to date, and the third album is certainly worth another listen for those who dismissed it out of hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if the third single – if there eventually is one – ends up being ‘Are You In Love With A Notion?’, or at least that is my prediction.