FFWD REW

Slacker pop by non-slackers

The Courtneys have gained worldwide acclaim for their debut album

It’s navel-gazing season for music critics and if we’re to believe the year-end lists that are rolling out by the bushel it’s been a heckuva year for Vancouver scrappy pop trio The Courtneys. Indeed their self-titled LP — cut last spring on Vancouver’s Hockey Dad imprint and already on its third re-press — has launched the band from regional heroes to blogosphere favourites. It’s helped the three Courtneys tour the continent release a cassette on the forever-hot Burger Records and earn year-end daps from the likes of Pitchfork and Exclaim!

But while the Courtneys — comprised of drummer Jen Twynn Payne guitarist Courtney Loove and bassist Sydney Koke who are putting together gingerbread houses at the time of our interview — have had a seriously banner year they maintain they’re anything but serious. Their MO in fact is to “not have any expectations and just focus on having fun” a fact that’s readily evident in their songs. Built around simplistic (but ruthlessly hummable) melodies jangly guitars and an obvious pop-culture obsession (see: “K.C. Reeves” and their instant classic “90210”) The Courtneys is an easygoing listen that elicited comparisons to northwestern twee U.S. slacker fare and New Zealand power pop.

“Ryan [Dyck of Hockey Dad and B-Lines] was at one of our very first shows. After we played he approached us and told us he thought we sounded like The Clean” they say (the group insist on answering interview questions together as one voice). “We immediately became friends. He’s been with us from the beginning.”

And speaking of beginnings two-thirds of the band have beginnings in Calgary: Koke and Payne cut their teeth in the wonderful post-punk band Puberty which easily foreshadowed The Courtneys. ( Weird Canada for their part called the band’s Calgary predecessors “waterslide Slurpee pop.”)

“My mom already gave me a new CJSW hoodie as an early Christmas present! Now all I want is a ginger snap from Beano” says Koke breaking away from the hive mind for a moment. It’s something she’ll surely be able to grab when the band returns for their Boxing Day show — “we expect to see our best buds at The Palomino then you know who you are” — but as it turns out the band gets plenty of Albertan ex-pat support in Vancouver.

“There’s not that many Calgary expats here in Vancouver. There’s a huge Edmonton crew though and those people definitely come to our shows.”

It’ll be a fitting way to cap off their excellent year — one where Koke finished her MFA the Courtneys played with their heroes in the Soft Pack in San Diego and all three members achieved rec baseball dominance beating Vancouver radio station CITR in the 16th inning at their invitational tournament this summer — but the trio’s already making plans for 2014.

For one they’re recording a new album at Gabriola Island B.C.-based studio Noise Floor with Jordan Koop who along with handling the Courtneys’ EP has recorded everyone from White Poppy to Babysitter to Weed. And though the band has maintained their love of ’80s synth pop they say their new album won’t sound anything like New Order.

“We are releasing a music video for one of the singles which will be coming out in January” they say. They’ve already debuted new songs live including one that’s reportedly about Kiefer Sutherland in Lost Boys . And when we press the band for more details they’re cryptic — though they hint they could be moving in darker directions. “The songs are sounding like Metallica.”

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