Monday, July 30, 2018

Review of Barns Courtney's "The Attractions of Youth"

I posted this review a few minutes ago on the Sputnik Music website:

Review Summary: A strong debut album by an artist with a knack for writing catchy and commercially viable tunes.

This album just missed my Top Ten list last year. Barnaby George ("Barns") Courtney is one of these guys who put in his time sleeping on people's sofas and in his girlfriend's car while he was trying to start a career in the music business. He's a gentleman of British/Croatian extraction who spent half of his life living in the UK, and the other half living in Seattle. His musical style combines folk and blues rock, and yet he's been making fans on both the pop and alternative circuits. Most importantly, he's got an ear for what's catchy, which makes his music radio-friendly without being frivolous.

The Attractions of Youth is Courtney's first LP. You might not think you've heard of him, but odds are you've heard at least snippets from this album. This is because Courtney has such a sense of what makes a song both memorable and commercial that in addition to having done well on the music charts, he's been making a killing over the last two years through licensing. "Fire", his best-known number, not only charted on four different Billboard charts, it's been used in a host of films, television shows and commercials. Another of the tracks on this album, "Glitter & Gold" has had similar licensing prosperity. And a third track, "Champion" has become popular at sporting events, and was used in the UK as part of the Rugby League World Cup ad campaign.

Please don't get the impression that he's all about the fluff, though. While I'd have to admit that "Champion" may be just a little bit cheesy, there are some really solid songs on Attractions. "Fire" totally deserves the success it's had as a single, and another track called "Hellfire" is one of those scary-things-going-on-in-the-woods songs that reminds me a little of some of the work of the band Lord Huron. Another track, "Kicks" has this weird chorus of assorted creatures that sounds like it could be part of festive Halloween Party in purgatory. And a fourth song, "Rather Die" is a fast-paced track with a lot of movement that makes you want to clap along to it.

In all, The Attractions of Youth is a really strong debut album. I recommend it without hesitation, and I look forward to seeing how Courtney's career develops from here.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars