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Albums Of The Week: Courting | Guitar Music

Indie-pop hooks and melodies battle it out with fuzzy walls of guitar and chaotic experimentation on the rebellious Liverpool foursome's intriguingly weird debut.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I think a lot of bands are playing it safe and calling it dangerous,” says Courting frontman Sean Murphy-O’Neill. “We’ve made something a bit more on the edge – a little bit weirder.”

As far as debut albums go, the Liverpool four-piece have used theirs to make a statement in just about every possible sense. “Our plan was to record a rock album and then ruin it,” says Murphy-O’Neill. “To have the backbone of the record played by a band and then have it ripped to shreds. There were no restrictions on how we would put it back together.”

However, this is not an act of reckless self-sabotage but more a bold proclamation rooted in eschewing convention and predictability. “There are so many albums that are really long and clever, but where’s the fun?” says Murphy-O’Neill. “We’re having fun. We’re writing songs about paypigs and putting stupid 808 kicks on every song.”

The band, consisting of Murphy-O’Neill, Sean Thomas, Josh Cope and Connor McCann, made bold strides from early singles such as Football and David Byrne’s Badside to their acclaimed 2021 EP Grand National, but have made another giant leap to their album. “We spent a lot of time on the EP and it was representative of what we wanted to do at the time but I think this album just massively shits on it,” says Murphy-O’Neill.

Photo by Marieke Macklon.

Whilst Guitar Music follows closely on the back of the band’s EP, the new material sees them make a marked step in a new direction, exploring more dynamically expressive songwriting than ever before.

Guitar Music is realising you actually love the music you hated when you were 13,” says Murphy-O’Neill. “It is lip fillers and being thousands of pounds in debt. It is missing mundane things about your childhood and mourning celebrities you were only aware of posthumously. It is dancing with your friends. It is falling in love with a drawing and it is always online. It is touching toes in bed, hearts carved into trees. It is swimming outside and listening to pop smoke. It is fireworks over family parks and Guitar Music is the opposite of our early releases in that it is very emotional. The stories told may be from the perspective of other characters at times, but these songs are filled with actual emotion rather than us trying to hide.

“We felt that Guitar Music as a phrase was reductive and therefore decided to create a record with the intention of it being a body of work that could redeem being a ‘guitar band’, by pushing it to different boundaries. To us, this record is a statement piece, it felt very exciting to make, to us, it feels a lot more special than we’d originally expected it would be.”

Guitar Music was tracked in the band’s home city of Liverpool with Rob Whitely and produced in London with double Grammy-nominated producer James Dring (Gorillaz, Jamie T, Sorry, Lana Del Rey, Blur).