Friday, December 1, 2023
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Courting – Flex Review

Four coffees into the day, midnight marching ever closer. No rest for the seventeen-hour day. What better way to pick up spirits than a track from Courting? Outdated it may be to talk Flex now their latest album is on the way – there is a time and place to write of up-and-comers on their second record. SEO waits for no man, pal. Anyway. Flex. It is quite the flex from the post-punk group whose debut record last year proved promising, interesting and frustrating in equal measure. A bit like listening to 100 Gecs or a nasty bout of tinnitus which happens to find itself in a timely and enjoyable tune. What a life some of us lead. It gets better when listening to Flex, a real statement of intent from the sonic force of Courting, whose sword is still on sale. 

Flailing your hands away at a keyboard, trying to sort out image issues with a WordPress site held together with duct tape and willpower is not a great backdrop to Flex, though it is the one present here. Calling cabs as though they were The Distorted Killers, Courting displays a real relationship with technology and the need to escape from it. Knocking off the mobile and bleeding some ever-so-slightly distorted bits and pieces through is a nice feel to the build of this second record. Their debut saw the band find their feet – bits to improve but a bulky piece with more than a few highlights. Flex is a steady second go for the band whose drumming and percussion steer the rhythm. Get back to your beds. In comes the mandatory trumpet and brass sections Sam Fender lit the fires of back in his live shows. 

Nothing about this tune links Flex or Courting to Fender or other contemporaries working away. Their uniqueness is guided by their improvements and new fixations. Flex has plenty of those – the ego-massaging photo views followed up with slick licks of a guitar. More contained? Broader? Possibly. But Flex is still a risky move from Courting – with some hardcore and dedicated fans potentially viewing this as a regression from the harsh sounds and room-splitting electronics which made their first record. Veering closer to pop than tinnitus-ringing impressions, Courting are finding their feet still and do not abandon their sound or style. They lighten the mood a tad with lead single Flex, though flickers of their first iteration are still clear. 

It rings true of what Yard Act frontman James Smith said. If they could give their first record another go, they would record with the same confidence now founded in their brains. Courting may be in a similar place – happier with the unique sound and sonic force they bring to the table which now feels further separate from the clunky bedroom bits of their first record. Flex is as its title suggests, a stretch of endurance and showmanship. It is a track on such a topic too, vigorously enjoying the roots of its chaotic instrumentals, brought together almost unnoticeably well by vocalist Sean Murphy-O’Neill. A slice of brilliance from the band who now look to cement themselves, and to do that, they turn their sound toward detailed chaos.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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