The words, ‘hotly anticipated’ are much overused in the music industry but one glance at the forum pages for The Courteeners would justify that term in relation to the band’s debut, due on April 7th. ‘St.Jude’, the patron saint of lost causes and the icon that hangs from a chain around singer Liam Fray’s neck, is the first full length missive from a band whose elevation from local heroes to national news has appeared fast tracked to the casual observer.
In truth, the passage from Liam Fray solo shows through to this point with acclaim from NME, Q, Radio One and many points in between has come about through the old fashioned approach of building a fanbase via playing live. From the peaks of sell out shows at Manchester Ritz and London Kings College on their first single proper to the new highpoints of a sold out Manchester Academy and London’s Astoria prior to the album release, The Courteeners have been and remain a band that the people can and do take straight to their hearts. The Courteeners are a live band, they believe in the power of live music as a world changing prospect and across such tracks as ‘What Took You So Long’ and ‘Fallowfield Hillbilly’ praise those who share their vision and berate those determined to relegate music to fashion accessory status. They are most definitely NOT a haircut band even though they have very good haircuts.
Courteeners live shows are already legendary in the right circles for the singalong participation of the audience, gigs to date see word perfect renditions of songs such as the raucous ‘If It Wasn’t For Me’ and the Motown infused ‘Please Don’t’ that see their recorded light of day on this album. This is the mark of The Courteeners, a fierce dedication to the band that means you have to know every word, have to know every inflection because it matters. In that respect, the comparisons to Mancunian sons such as The Smiths, Stone Roses and Oasis are correct. It is also a mark of a great lyricist in the making.
Throughout ‘St. Jude’, Fray’s lyrics resonate with the fierce honesty and self deprecating humour hinted at on singles, ‘Cavorting’, ‘Acrylic’ and ‘What Took You So Long?’ His knack of conversational and realistic story telling, shot through with an ability for the well timed barbed put down does indeed remind of Morrissey, but also John Cooper Clarke and Jarvis Cocker. With ‘Acrylic’ not even on the album due to a surfeit of good tunes and a desire to give the fans as much new music as possible, there is plenty more to come from both Fray’s pen and the combined power of The Courteeners guitars, bass and drums.
‘St Jude’ is released through A & M on 7th April. The Courteeners begin their biggest UK tour to date in the same month, check www.thecourteeners.com for details.