The Courteeners have thrown us an oddball with new single ‘Van Der Graaff.’ Albeit a predictable oddball. See, the Mancunian boys’ tunes from third album ‘Anna’ are a bunch of contradictions that both frazzles and amuses.
Perhaps unfairly branded with the ‘lad rock’ label, the band fervently reject such brutish behaviour whilst sound tracking football video games. Previous release ‘Lose Control’ set a promising stage but second offering ‘Van Der Graaff’ is all wannabe arena encore bombast with little subsistence.
Masters of mixing the cryptic with the cliché, ‘Van Der Graff’, sees Fray goes out of his way to pen ‘introspective’ indie-thinking-man’s lyrics. All the while acting out the big arena rock star in the accompanying self-congratulatory ‘epic tour montage’ video. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with either of these notions but the contradictory nature of slapping the two together in one single cancels each out and leaves the listener at best confused and at worst, cringing.
“Solitude is a place on earth,
And I’ve got a season ticket.
We’re splitting off like the A57,
Cutting my own through the thicket.”
It’s too much and yet not enough and the painfully self-conscious content is at odds with the grandiose.
We’ve been willing to let The Courteener’s smugness slide in the past thanks to the undeniable disco suave of previous singles and Fray’s dry observations of the horrors and delights of a night out in the glorious North. But there’s none of that here and unfortunately ‘Van Der Graaff’ would be most suitable for sound tracking a middle aged man’s drive down the aforementioned A57.