Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Good Album Review

Rated 4/5

The View’s star has been in the ascendancy for around twelve months now. They were signed by James Endeacott (who discovered The Libertines) after Pete Doherty passed him a demo that he himself had received directly from the band. Support tours with Primal Scream and recording with Owen Morris have taught the band about the rock’n’roll spirit. Two singles last year landed in the Top 15 while on Sunday Same Jeans arrived at number 3 in the charts. Despite all this comparisons to the hype and success of bands recently launched in the New Year are wide of the mark. The View are not arty enough for critics to fall over themselves like they did for Franz Ferdinand (whose debut album was released in early February 2004) and there is no supposed ‘internet phenomenon’ associated with them as for the Arctic Monkeys this time last year.

So what do we have? Debut albums generally fall into two categories. There are those bands which arrive fully formed; often slightly older, they have spent years practising, gigging and collecting together a bunch of songs of a high enough quality to produce an amazing first album. Think of The Stone Roses or Definitely Maybe. Then there are those bands that are signed whilst relatively young and whose debut album reflects their early energy and inspirations, points towards a bright future but isn’t necessarily a classic in its own right. Think of Please Please Me, Bob Dylan, Pablo Honey. With an average age of eighteen, it’s unsurprising to find that The View’s debut falls into the latter category.

There’s a theory that we are having a Britpop revival at the moment: Kasabian are Oasis, The Kaiser Chiefs are Blur, The Arctic Monkeys and/or The Long Blondes are Pulp. If this is the case The View must be Supergrass as Hats Off To The Buskers brings to mind the youthful pop of their debut I Should Coco. The other major influences are The Libertines and particularly The Strokes (circa Is This It). Kyle Falconer’s vocal drawl is reminiscent of Julian Casablancas’ half-arsed intonations but he demonstrates that he can sing well on Face For The Radio. Bass player Kieren Webster tackles vocal duties on Gran’s for Tea and Skag Trendy where he sounds like a kind of hyperactive Johnny Rotten. The ghost of The Clash is noticeable on the chorus of the aforementioned Gran’s For Tea, which sounds like something off London Calling.

Musically it’s an exciting sound – very rough, very fast and almost live with lots of time changes and plenty of biting guitar. The lead runs perhaps too often bring to mind The Strokes but there are undoubtedly some thrilling moments. These include the solo on Wasted Little DJs, the way that the instrumental break in Same Jeans feels like it’s going to stop and the Ooh La La guitar steal on Face For The Radio. This latter song also shows that The View aren’t just a riot of loud guitars; they can do acoustic and more subtle just as well. This broader palette may help them to develop their sound in future.

Lyrically the subject matter of the songs is as you would expect of a bunch of teenagers. Don’t Tell Me, Dance Into the Night and Claudia deal with nights out, love and romance. Street Lights (“I’d like to move city, I’d like to move town, all you ignorant people are bringing me down”) and sea-shanty closer Typical Time (“I’ve lived in shit forever there’s no treasure to be found”) depict young minds encountering the realities of life and the limitations of their hometown. More positively there are dreams of escape and encouragement to make things happen in Same Jeans (“You’d be amazed at what you can achieve in a year”). Superstar Trademan is a call to escape a humdrum job and throw yourself into your passion for music.

With such dreams there are always going to be those who ready to knock you but Comin’ Down shows that the band are wary of those who would try to stop them following their beliefs: “With these stones you cast so fast, makes me think that we will never last”. But it’s too late – The View have made the effort, formed their band, written their songs, got their deal and gigged themselves into a formidable live experience. And now they are reaping their rewards.

The album contains fourteen songs, albeit in a breakneck 41 minutes, which some may consider a few too many. But there aren’t any tracks that you’d particularly skip and in an age when it’s likely to be two years before we hear another album it is preferable for bands to put as many songs as possible on their long-players.

Overall Hats Off To The Buskers is everything a debut album by a young band should be: full of energy, self-belief and bristling with ideas. It includes some anthemic singles, is slightly too in thrall of its influences but establishes a base camp from which to push on, hopefully, towards even better things.

Written by Alistair Brodie, TwistedEar.com, Friday, 26 January 2007


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