By Sasha Goldblatt
English singer-songwriter Barns Courtney recently released his new album “404,” on Friday, September 6. Although he claims his main genres are pop-folk and blues rock, I felt more of an alt-rock vibe from the album with the heavy instrumentals and synthesizer. Between the acoustics, early 2000s rock and modern sounds, there is a track for everyone on this album.
The album starts with the most pop-sounding track, “Hollow,” presenting a classic, catchy radio sound with heavy guitar and drums. “You and I” takes us to a more authentic Barns sound, though the chorus throws off the flow of the track with uncreative repetitiveness. “99” and “London Girls” present a great contrast of sounds, first from an acoustic and then to a more rock-focused sound while transitioning into the next section of the album.
Tracks like “London Girls” and “Fun Never Ends” have an early 2000s rock sound and vocals, but with a synthesizer. These two tracks stick out as creative twists on the regular blues rock that Barns Courtney is sonically described as. The variety in this first half of the album creates a unique experience for the listener.
The album then winds down with “Boys Like Me” and “The Kids Are Alright.” These have a heavy feature of a slower, rounder drum rhythm, complementing the lyrics that have themes of desperation and worry.
“Castaway” is the most artistically interesting track on the album, utilizing a unique melodic structure. This track also holds great contrast between the simplicity of the verses and the heavy sound of the chorus, keeping the listener engaged.
The next track, “Babylon,” is the most underwhelming track. There is an uneventful melodic and instrumental line. There is a buildup, though it feels too heavy and busy by the end of the track.
But the album ends with what I consider to be the best track of the album, “Cannonball,” definitely bringing a comeback. There is a creative, subtle buildup throughout the track that guides you toward the end of the album, giving the listener a moment to really focus on the lyrics discussing the idea of crashing down and feeling your mind take control of your body.
This synth-heavy track dies down to just vocals singing “I’m hopeless,” over and over again. This track evokes the most emotion from the listener and allows for a moment of reflection by making the lyrics truly #relatable.
This album is much more rock-heavy than what I would expect from Barns Courtney, though it still has a strong synth feature with incredible vocals as well as clear, distinctive ideas that are unique to each track. I would not recommend the entire album to friends, but certainly send them some of the individual tracks. Everyone can find a song they enjoy on “404.”
Best songs: Fun Never Ends, The Kids Are Alright, Cannonball
Best lyrics: “Darling I’m amazed / Floating through the days / Like a cannonball / Like an inner-voice says / Honey I’m a waste / Falling through the haze / Like a cannonball / Like I’m crashing down” — Cannonball