The Courteeners St Jude Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

A northern band with a lead singer who has an outspoken opinion?

Jerome Blakeney 2008

A northern band with a lead singer who has an outspoken opinion? Rattling snare drums, staccato guitars and tales of urban youth in meltdown? No wait…come back. The Courteeners may not be the newest idea on the block. But that doesn't make St Jude a total write-off. Not quite...

Whether the album title (the patron saint of lost causes) refers to the tales told on the album's 12 tracks or is a self-deprecating prediction of critical dismissal for their lack of originality remains to be seen. But while one struggles to review this album without mentioning the Arctic Monkeys (lyrical content, northern sneer, minimal guitar effects) or even the Kaiser Chiefs (musical bounce on the opener, Aftershow) there's still something about this band's drive that suggests that they may have more to offer. But is drive enough?

The problem lies in Liam Fray's rather scattershot misanthropy. While his distaste for modern life is admirable, the very cocksure arrogance of it all can be like being trapped in a room with the world's biggest head. Add to this his obvious ire for members of the opposite sex (''You're an average girl with bad teeth'', – If It Wasn't For Me) and you're left with a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth when it's over.

But still one hesitates to be entirely negative. Their kitchen sink indie is based on some fine templates, notably No You Didn't, No You Don't's Smiths-ian sway. And Please Don't is designed to be heard live. You can hear the fans singing along to the stop-start invective.

But musically it IS formuaic, and the band's limitations aren’t helped by a rather lacklustre production job that leaves drums lacking punch and guitars sounding hackneyed. One can only hope that the band's gobbiness in interviews isn't just some astute PR that hides depth beyond the spite. On this showing it's a close-run thing…

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