By Oliver Burton
With their new single ‘David Byrne’s Bad Side’, Liverpool four piece Courting present a trivial observation of the UK’s many shortcomings. Though the slender New Wave pioneer Byrne appears in the title, he serves as no more than a guise, under which singer Sean Murphy-O’Neill studies the modern pub man rhetoric. “I’m not racist or tasteless, they’re invasive, they’re hateful!” Taking the position of the typically racist, typically tasteless antagonist, Murphy-O’Neill brushes aside artistic instinct and sides with the contemptuous wordsmiths of pubs up and down the UK. “As he hates all his neighbours, he praises his saviour, Nige!”. The narrative based style that Courting opt for is more observation than vilification, perhaps putting ourselves in our enemies shoes is the best way to understand them?
On the musical side of things, it’s becoming abundantly clear that with every new release we see a further refinement of Courting’s choice blend of late 70s guitars, e.g. XTC, Gang of Four as well as a discrete nod to contemporaries Parquet Courts and Bristol-based Home Counties. The latter of which it must be said share with Courting a temperament for a more calculated style of change. Serving as perhaps the successors to the post punk triumphs of the past few years, both Courting and Home Counties present a fresh strategy aimed at gunning down the bad ideas so prevalent in today’s Britain. Ever since John Lydon’s first live expletive, British music has become synonymous with counter culture and manipulating the zeitgeist. This in turn has cemented a sort of responsibility now thrust upon modern artists. Bands such as IDLES, LIFE and Hotel Lux have in recent years had a good crack at providing discourse on who we should and shouldn’t follow on twitter. Though a man with pink hair screaming Karl Marx down the oesophagus of the local racist Dave feels less like progress and more like a vehicle for subordination, furthering us from those we strive so publicly to scrutinise. Instead of branding our aggressors as unintelligent and just wrong, Courting have provided us with the alternative perspective, in turn allowing the listener to better understand the generational bigotry that we’re up against.
Last week for Clunk’s first ever Down the Pub livestream, I spoke with Sean about their new song, isolation, and the prospect of new music on the forever inside… “I know a lot of bands have been put off releasing stuff, but if all these bigger bands are cancelling their albums until October, people need something to listen to”. Though the band are still very much enjoying their emergence, the band refuse to confine themselves to radio-friendly ideas…”i’d quite like to do a song about Take That, I’m not sure how I’m gonna get there, but I’ll get there”. The video for ‘David Byrne’s Bad Side’, sees Murphy-O’Neill singing against the backdrop of some of the most scenic northern booze houses. Though many stand as a monument of bad decisions and broken homes you can’t help but get the sense that deep within their brutal post war exterior lies a subtle elegance, a pillar of British culture spoiled by those whom wear their flag quite literally on their sleeves. Like many of us poor millennials, Courting are deprived of patriotism, and can’t truly enjoy pub culture because of the corrupt ideology that supports it. In ‘David Byrne’s Bad Side’ this corruption is outlined for everyone to see, for that may be the only way that we can change.
Listen/watch to ‘David Byrn’s Bad Side’ here: