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Album Review // BARNS COURTNEY ‘The Attractions Of Youth’

English singer-songwriter Barns Courtney releases his debut full-length, The Attractions Of Youth.

Having only recently heard of Barns Courtney last month, I now can’t seem to escape him. He’s everywhere – and rightly so.

He’s already released some brilliant singles over the last two years – Fire and Kicks being personal favourites of mine – and is now moving onto to bigger things with his debut album The Attractions Of Youth.

If you’ve heard any of Barns’ offerings so far, then you’ll be pleased to know that the album continues in much the same vein. It’s fast-paced, straightforward and there is a plethora of songs that could easily get stuck in your head for days on end.

Fire kicks of proceedings with its percussive-ness and haunting, bluesy melody. It’s an instant insight into the album’s overall vibe – plenty of rhythmic punch with a slight lyrical melancholy throughout, which really helps with the whole ‘tortured musician’ look that Barns Courtney has going on.

His most recent single, Golden Dandelions, is slightly more wistful-sounding than the previous tracks. Though it still has a definite percussive hit, the melody is softer – almost airier – and much less hard-hitting than songs like Kicks, which lives up to its name by serving up a snappy, staccato chorus that’s been playing on loop in my head for over a week. It’s fitting that Kicks is focused on the idea of satisfying a particular fix, as the song itself is pretty addictive.

Out of the non-singles on the album, the standouts are the uniquely-named Hobo Rocket, and the album’s title track The Attractions Of Youth.

Courtney’s voice has a very retro quality to it. Think gritty American rock from the 70s, complete with heavy guitars and stripped back production that allows each song to speak for itself. Despite being an English musician and songwriter, Courtney lived in Seattle from the ages of 4 to 15, which may explain the clear cross-Pacific influences that permeate through the album.

The Attraction Of Youth saves itself from being described as ‘samey’ with the inclusion of a couple of slower, more sentimental numbers. Little Boy and Goodbye John Smith give the listener a breather from the in-your-face blues rock that makes up the rest of the album. Little Boy, in particular, is an incredibly reflective track – it details Courtney speaking to his younger self, and looking back on his youth with a sense of nostalgia and subdued optimism. The song acts as a quiet anthem for those who need a motivational push to keep on keeping on.

It’s genuinely very hard to fault The Attraction Of Youth. Each song is melodically catchy, lyrically complex or emotionally heartfelt – or a combination of all three. It is a stunning debut offering from Barns Courtney, and it’ll be really interesting to see where he goes from here.