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The second offering from Barns Courtney provides his fans with the same energy and swagger they have become accustomed to since his emergence as a solo artist in 2015. Courtney's blues-influenced rock has been on a sharp incline for the past couple of years as he switches between classic rock, pop punk and psychedelic hooks almost effortlessly.

His latest album, titled 404, came from an "emotional representational metaphor for when you search for something that doesn't exist or can no longer be found", and this sense of covertness is embodied within opening track 'Hollow'. Barns' profound, expressive lyrics are laid out through his crisp and authentic voice and this track represents the peak of a varying album. Sharp lyrics give an understanding into Barns' outlook: "My mind is getting kinda dumb / Hollow out the sides / Then bring the shooting squad and some / And leave my heart behind."

strong commercial pop influences which don't veer too far from the comfort zone

Other highlights include '99' and 'Cannonball', where his raw, husky sound comes to the floor yet again, drawing obvious comparisons with Tom Grennan and Jack White.

The majority of the album is buoyant, with predominating glistening guitars and toe-tapping beats. 'London Girls' and 'Fun Never Ends' are aimed at the masses, with strong commercial pop influences which don't veer too far from the comfort zone.

If you're looking for a lyrical masterpiece, then you should look beyond 404, as the emphasis is on producing infatuating, melodic pop rock. But while this album might not change the world of music, Courtney personifies the vigour and spirit which is still alive in alternative rock music.

Daniel Atherton

by Now Then Sheffield

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