When reviewing Wake Me Up When It’s Over, the last release from Courtney and the band, I had them down as an alt-country-rock hybrid, Sheryl Crowe meets Patti Smith perhaps, here though something much more provoking seems to be on offer. There has always been a genre hopping nature to what she does but Red Letter Day seems to be her “what the hell, let’s just do it” moment. As a statement of intent, opening salvo ‘Get It’ is perfect; all Anthony Kiedis styled staccato lyricism over squalling, rabid guitars. This is Courtney with the sass, not to mention the expectation, turned up to maximum.
What follows is the art of being throwing musical curveballs but without sounding out of line with the overall sound of the album. I guess the phrase “it’s the singer not the song “ is appropriate here as it is the bands component parts, their familiarity and skills as a working unit that provide the cohesion allowing the songs to head off into more adventurous musical territory yet without seeming too far from home.
If tracks such as ‘Friend of Mine’ are a direct pop-rock bridge to the previous album, it is the title track with its Daytripper-esque groove running through the middle distance and its touches of 60’s soul that show that the band know how to keep originality and momentum in an industry that expects you to merely give them what they want. Thankfully this album gives them what they didn’t know they wanted, a rare gift indeed.
There is room for beautiful torch songs (‘Change Your Mind’) and anthemic country rock (‘Hang on For the Ride’) but it is ‘Misfits and Losers’ that stands out as the real high point of the album for me. If ever they were going for a chart looking pop-rock crossover (think Pink!) then this certainly opens that door.
To sum up – Adventurous, generically eclectic, forward looking and great song writing. I’d say that’s all boxes ticked.