The debut album of any band is always a life-defining moment. It’s where you see their ambition encapsulated into a record that will either launch them into the stratosphere or see them stranded on earth. For Courting, the band fall into the former.
The four-piece band from Liverpool, consisting of Sean Murphy O’Neill, Sean Thomas, Michael Downes, and Sam Brennan – are one of the most exciting acts to emerge from the North West in recent years. Eschewing the traditional sonic pathway that most bands tread, Courting proudly show themselves as students of the streaming age. With influences crashing into each other that you never thought possible. From David Byrne to Kanye West through Blur, Busted, and Charli XCX.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on the record itself. A smorgasbord of musical influences that — for the most part — blend nicely. Opener ‘Twin Cities’ revels in Hyper-pop chaos and sets the band's statement out front and centre. 'Tennis' leans more towards post-punk while being naturally tongue-in-cheek. With lines like “You’re a night in a Holiday Inn, I’m a breakfast bar with an unusual toasting conveyor belt,” you know these lads are something special. 'Loaded' smashes together post-punk and Hyper-pop in a chaotic track about how strange gentrification is making cities seem so soulless and being nostalgic for a time where he was more free and reckless.
'Famous' sounds like the world's most demented theme park ride but turns into an indie-punk banger worthy of LCD Soundsystem. This is followed by the absolute stomper 'Crass', which is early Courting through and through. 'Jumper' is a track that sounds like Busted has possessed the band briefly, with jangly guitars and a tale of a couple of meeting and falling for each other it treads familiar ground it is undoubtedly an earworm and a song that is begging to be played live.
The album — at only eight tracks — speeds along quicker than a bullet train and leaves little respite. The band seem to have distilled all of their ideas and influences into the eight tracks, leaving it all killer and no filler. In terms of critique, there isn’t much to say. Closing track 'PDA' is a goodbye to the fans, with O'Neill singing: “I said I won’t cry, cause crying will mean that it’s over." Aside from the clever fourth wall break, the songs instrumentation builds slowly and leaves you wanting more.
Courting have proven they're adept at changing whenever the mood takes them, and Guitar Music shows off their strengths in one of the most exciting debuts this year so far. One thing is for sure. These guys are pop stars.
Guitar Music is out now.
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