The Courtneys are a rarity in contemporary surf rock. Where their counterparts—and, for that matter, their forerunners—are chiefly concerned with both brevity and blown-out instrumentals, The Courtneys are deliberate and unabashedly heartfelt. Underneath all the fuzz and reverb on their second album, The Courtneys II are honest displays of emotion.
On the blissful “Tour,” the band is determined to remain optimistic, even during long periods of “slacking off and hitting the open road.” “If it’s in your heart, you’ll find a way,” they sing, “who you are and who you wanna be can take a long time.” Songs like “Virgo” and “25” use buoyant, punched-up slacker pop to explore feelings of isolation and the headaches of having a crush. And it’s not all growing pains and heartbreak; on “Lost Boys,” the trio schemes to find a vampire boyfriend with whom they can ride off into the sunset.
The Courtneys II arrives as the band themselves are on something of an ascent. In the three years since their self-titled debut, The Courtneys have signed with their dream label—New Zealand giant Flying Nun—and have netted slots opening for Tegan and Sara and Mac Demarco. In that context, II feels like a collage of moments, the band reviewing the highs and lows of their journey so far, with their eyes fixed firmly on the horizon. —Lauren Rearick