Both feel-good and charmingly gritty, the Courtneys' sophomore album is a succinct followup to their 2013 self-titled debut. Hooky riffs, brawny bass, and drummer/lead singer Jen Twynn Payne's satisfyingly sweet vocals — the band's best bits — are right at the forefront throughout the effort, starting with opener "Silver Velvet." On "Iron Deficiency" and "Mars Attacks," the group demonstrate their knack for harmony, incorporating it just enough to add a divine contrast to the pummelling percussion of the former and woozy guitar of the latter.
"Tour," with its buzzy, sunny melody, is pop perfection and one of the album's standouts, with dynamic vocals that accompany sing-along lines like, "What you are and what you wanna be, takes a long, long, long, long time." Sincere lyrics, through which the girls reach inward to reflect upon topics like heartache and crushes, add substance to the album's vivid sonic exterior, as well as wonderfully tongue-in-cheek cuts like "Lost Boys" — a 2014 single that nods to the '80s vampire cult classic.
By polishing up their best assets and sticking them front and centre, the Courtneys demonstrate how much they've grown artistically over the last four years. Well-crafted and delightfully infectious, The Courtneys II is a sequel that surpasses their already-great original. (Flying Nun)