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The Courtneys : II

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“You’re … real fun,” spits Lorri Williams’ Billie towards the beginning of the 1965 cult classic, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. “Like a velvet glove cast in iron.”
 
She’s talking about her friend and accomplice Varla, but the evergreen quote applies just as well to II, the new work by The Courtneys
 
See, there’s a lot to love about II – its choruses are hooky, its production is clever, and it proves consistently inventive in a way that never once feels show-offy or overly considered – but it’s the carefully controlled mix of dreamy writing and barbed wire taut delivery that makes it the truly accomplished work that it is. Minnesota is gentle enough to serve as background listening, but closer inspection reveals blissed-out layers underneath the obvious that reward in deeper, important ways, while the poppy Silver Velvet is more confrontational than it first lets on.
 
There’s sadness to be found, and things more complicated than sadness too – emotional tones that defy easy categorisation sitting hidden in an otherwise straightforward tune such as Tour like a bear trap hidden in the brush. By the time the record is done, a lot has been gained but very little has been explained. II isn’t a record you pick apart. It’s one you submit to willingly, arms up and eyes wide open.
 
By Joseph Earp