The Courteeners

Anna

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    6
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Anna continues the polished, anthemic vein of the Courteeners' second album, Falcon, but brings back some of the swagger that was missing from those songs. The album opens strong, with "Are You in Love with a Notion?" and "Lose Control" displaying plenty of energy and '80s new wave sheen. Best of all is the rolling groove of "Van Der Graaff," which with its tough verses and vulnerable choruses, is the best balance of where the Courteeners have been and where they want to go that the band has yet managed. Unfortunately, Anna descends into filler pretty quickly. There are only a few obvious missteps, chief among them "Save Rosemary in Time." From the eye-rolling "Scarborough Fair" pun to the way it feels like parts and pieces of different songs pasted together into something overblown yet insubstantial, it just doesn't work. Ballads also remain a sticking point for the Courteeners, robbing them of the energy and attitude that characterizes their best songs. "When You Want Something You Can't Have" has an undeniably pretty melody but also reflects that there's still not a whole lot of subtlety or nuance to the band's music, while "Marquee" is filled with dreary recriminations. Mostly, though, these songs have all their parts in the right places, but pleasantly jangly numbers like "Push Yourself," "Welcome to the Rave," and "Here Come the Young Men" as well as the snarling "Money" just don't make much of a lasting impression. Ultimately, Anna is something of a return to form after Falcon, but still lacks the spark of the Courteeners' early days.

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