'Falcon', The Courteeners second studio album, is much more grown-up than their debut. Sadly, it still sucks up to Manchester music gone by.
'The Opener', funnily enough the album's first track, is all about the band having left their hometown of Manchester behind for New York and LA, before declaring 'but my heart is here to stay'. The love the band have for their home city is evident in most of the album's tracks and there is no doubt that for those still holding onto the 'Madchester' life, this is an album that will talk to you in a certain way. The first couple of tracks are typical of what we've heard from The Courteeners before; repetitive melodies and easy lyrics. It's an album that seems unashamed of being a collection of typical indie rock tracks. It's just a shame in being 'typical', it means that most of them have been done before.
'Take Over The World' is a piece of non-threatening indie in which Fray proclaims 'I'm only a paperboy from the Northwest, but I scrub up well in my Sunday best.' and it's exactly the sort of track, along with 'Cross My Heart & Hope To Fly' that's given The Courteeners their loyal following.
The acoustic 'The Rest of the World Has Gone Home' highlights Fray's vocal ability much better than many of the other tracks on this album; he references, once more, Manchester landmarks, 'the Deansgate fireflies' and loneliness, 'I haven't felt this alone since my art GCSE' but unlike some of the previous tracks, it's easy to believe what he's saying and doesn't sound as contrived.
This is rare though, and in tracks such as 'Last of the Ladies' and 'Good Times Are Calling', you are subjected to over the top gushing sentiment, such as 'sometimes I may not see you for a week/don't think of this as a burden, just a grander hide and seek...'. There is a definite need to tone this down in future recordings.
Towards the end of the album is where you'll find some of the strongest tracks. 'Cameo Brooch' is one of the more moving odes; it's a well-produced track that leaves you thinking that if the band worked just that little harder, they would have had a stronger collection of songs than appear on 'Falcon'. Both 'Scratch Your Name Upon My Lips' and 'Will It Be This Way Forever?' leave you thinking The Courteeners might not be such a wannabe band after all.
The Courteeners seem to be a band that will always be adored by their home city crowd, but 'Falcon' is not going to win over anyone who thinks it's time to just move on from that 'Madchester' era. For all the talk that they are their own men and doing their own thing, there are just too many obvious influences from frankly better bands. Now would be a good time stop pretending they are going their own way and in fact prefer to follow the crowd.