Fans of the Courteeners will have undoubtedly noted the simultaneous departure from the angry-wit that pervaded tracks such as “Fallowfield Hillbilly” of their 2008 debut of St. Jude but how they have preserved their knack an intricately crafted lyric that is instantly recognisable. Frontman Liam Fray even noted in an interview with Cup of Coffee, following the Courteeners’ third album Anna, how their progression musically reflected less anger and less ‘of a chip on my shoulder’ since the first album. Indeed Concrete Love does continue with that similar feel of maturity.
Early criticisms assumed them to be yet another out-spoken, self-important Mancunian four-piece, mimicking less effectively the biting voices of their notorious predecessors including The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses, to name a few. Of course these artists have been cited as undoubtable influences and similarities can be drawn particularly with the lyrics being on such a personal and anecdotal level. However pigeonholing the band into this all too comfortable archetype, and product, of Mancunian indie-rock was really just a convenient label for critics. In spite of this the Courteeners have broken out of the restraints that such critics had confined them to so early on their career. The perfect example of this on Concrete Love is “Summer,” proving how bold the band have actually been in taking such a large step towards a seemingly much lighter and untroubled track. Those who still attach a great fondness to both St.Jude and Falcon and the much rawer hooks and frantic riffs, might initially find the evolution in their sound difficult to get used to, but this more experimental direction arguably pays off.
Nevertheless there is certainly the familiarity of commonplace, harsh realities that Fray has an undeniable talent for articulating in the tracks “Has He Told You That He Loves You Yet?” and “Black & Blue.” Other personal favourite and more poignant moments of the album include “International” and “Small Bones. The latter in particular is the epitome of the nostalgia that is evoked in relatable experiences fans will associate with the sound of Falcon. The growth and overall more optimistic feel the band feeds into this album definitely charts a smooth transition in the maturity of their sound and suggests even greater future feats for the Courteeners.