The Courteeners – ‘St. Jude’ | Classic Record Review

Was The Courteeners Debut Album their Finest Work?

Released in 2008, we have had 11 years to play ‘St. Jude’ to death. However, much to critics surprise, the album is still being well received and drawing in new fans daily. This was only emphasised when we were gifted St. Jude Re: Wired last year to mark the 10 year anniversary of the original record that reached number 4 in the UK. Admittedly, it could never beat the original guitar-heavy album but hearing a different perspective of the songs makes for an interesting listen. 

Setting the Scene.

Lyrically, St. Jude is a masterpiece. Sometimes bands struggle to balance their musical talent with fascinating lyrics. However, the words written by Liam Fray are amongst some of the best. He uses his platform to perform an autobiography for working Northern lads, making it a relatable listen for many. This is one of the reasons why this underdog band have managed to sell out to massive crowds including 50,000 at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

The Album.

The first song on this album ‘Aftershow‘ has a hauntingly slow feel to it at the beginning, acting as an introduction to the clever record. The pace picks up at around 40 seconds in, and we are plunged face first into the musical skill of Courteeners.  The fast-paced songs don’t stop there, however, – ‘Cavorting’ is one of the most catchy tunes on the album. Hooking the listener from the get-go, lead guitarist Daniel Conan Moores plays hypnotic riffs creating an overload on all things electric. The guitar-heavy nature of this band rings resonance to Arctic Monkeys, with many comparisons having been made to them over the years.

Bide Your Time‘ also showcases their objection to modern day life, and perhaps it’s the bluntness of Frays’ lyrics; “the gaggle of girls who are singing too loud, they do my head in” that sell this album. Courteeners do what they want with their songs, and although it’s a little predictable at times. any band that writes a song involving ‘a double-decker stagecoach’ is an admirable one in my eyes.

Slowing it Down.

What’s different about this record is that whilst many of the songs have a Rock ‘n’ Roll feel, there are a few that are slower and more tamed. Exhibiting a more melancholic sound, songs such as ‘Please Don’t‘, ‘How Come‘ and ‘Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow‘ hint towards their latest Re:Wired album. ‘Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow’ is probably the most surprising track and the polar opposite of the other songs. It features a gentle acoustic guitar and Fray’s voice with lyrics that tear on the heartstrings. It perfectly frames the pessimistic yet realistic mindset of Courteeners. Even their love songs have a negative twist to them. “I won’t be yours and you probably won’t be mine” is a particularly touching line, and makes us rethink our current relationships.

Of course, the album had to include ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ the bands most successful song. It’s bagged over 36 million streams on Spotify alone and is now crowned a party anthem. Involving a syncopated drum beat throughout the majority of the song, it was designed to be played live – or at full volume in the car. ‘Fallowfield Hillbilly’ also showcases their indie rock side, whilst also acknowledging Courteeners’ birthplace. A distaste for modern culture shines through, as the lyrics criticise the trendsetters in our society. They ask the questions that people don’t think to mention such as “is that all that matters anymore'” and interrogate the norm. 

Overall.

Overall, this is the perfect introductory to Courteeners, as they ask daring questions and push the boundaries of songwriting. They prove that a band can be more than just electric, but with their escalating riffs and bouncing drum beats, they can’t go wrong.

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