Friday, January 30, 2009

Which Bitch? review

Rated 4/5
The four Scots return armed with album no. 2 of ramshackle anarchy, but this time there's a few tricks up their sleeves.
You want to put a panda in the what now?? Have you even been a what with a who?? Ah, it's been a while since we got to play the 'what the frig are they saying?', guess the totally unintelligible lyric game. Bursting onto our radar back in 2006, and following up in January of the year after with gloriously chaotic debut, 'Hats Off To The Buskers', the oiksome foursome were the most exciting thing to come out of Scotland since Franz, with a guerilla spirit reminiscent of the glory days of Messrs. Barat and Doherty. But then they just seemed to... disappear. So, apart from the eponymous tales of on tour arrests and hair-raising shenanigans, what the dang hell have they been up? Well, judging from 'Which Bitch?', the answer just might be growing up a little. That's not to say that their follow up is a serious affair by any means, there's more than enough shambolic View-isms to keep even the most ardent fan happy, but there's a depth to the songwriting that has definitely developed since 'Hats Off...' and, most confusingly, there's a full blown orchestra brought along for the ride.

Kicking off with a blues harmonica and chirping piano, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd accidentally put a Chas and Dave record on... until Kieran sings about Baghdad. Then you realise that this could turn out to be a pretty interesting affair. But, by all intents and purposes, opener 'Typical Time 2' is essentially a glorified run up to the leviathan currently stomping all over the airwaves that is '5 Rebeccas'. The 'biggest' song they've written to date- less in a stadium filling, Kings of Leon way, but due to it's sheer balls-out anthemic status- goes a long way to showing that, whilst they can do slightly more experimental, The View know what they do best, and there's few bands around that can match them at it. 'One Off Pretender' follows in a similar vein with it's clarion calls of 'shout it from the rooftops' that are practically designed for call and response gig banter, but it's 'Unexpected' that stands out. A sweeping ballad backed by a full string section, it marks a radically different sound for the band- it's toned down, lush but almost sparse in it's simplicity and there's not a scream to be had throughout. It works. Even better on the orchestral front is 'Distant Doubloon' which, as the name hints at, sounds like the long-lost soundtrack to 'Pirates of the Carribean' and is, therefore, clearly genius. Then there's 'Glass Smash', with it's opening choirboy baritone, pounding guitars, and heartbroken wails, that provides arguably the album's high point.

It's a pleasurable position to be in, however, when it's nigh on impossible to decide just what that elusive stand-out track definitely is- there's too much choice. True, as is the generally the case, 'Which Bitch?' is frontloaded with some of the stronger tracks but there really isn't a particularly bad moment to be had.

Two years away, but two years clearly well spent. Roll on no. three...

By Lisa Wright, subba-cultcha, 30th January 2009


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