Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Which Bitch? review

Obscenely young and pint-sized though they may be, there’s a certain large ballsiness possessed by The View – the shaggy Scottish four-piece who were once hailed as a Scot version of the Libertines, now ought to simply be regarded as, well, brilliant. The Libertines reference is now outdated and not as fitting as it once was even though The View indeed have much in common with Pete Doherty and Carl Barat’s band of merry fuck-ups – to wit, grimy images of a Scotland/UK only they know, references to the everyman on the street, to ladies of ill-repute, to haggard junkies and eloquent poetry of the hazards of adolescence. In a better indication of where Which Bitch? was pointed, their ridiculously good debut album, Hats Off To The Buskers, full of raggedly urgent, belligerent indie-rawk, also easily brought to mind the sonic adventure of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Who or even contemporaries Arctic Monkeys. Yet despite these comparisons, no one would’ve expected Which Bitch? to be this good.

Having once more enlisted the undoubtedly aggressive production services of Owen Morris (Oasis), Which Bitch? is as similar to …Buskers as Two And A Half Men is to a comedy; where …Buskers relied on a rolling avalanche of whip-smart lyricism and punchy guitars, Bitch boasts a sound grasp on simply branching out with its tunes, and more importantly, it displays the ideas necessary behind crafting a proper ‘album’.

That second point is the most salient – when Bitch presents curios such as One Off Pretender with frontman Kyle Falconer’s mushy accented voice out of tune but still beguiling, or presents the amazingly bizarre Covers with its horns, pianos and string section – it does so with an eye to how the entire album feels. There are still the crunching guitar-rock moments present – in the punky Glass Smash, the sing-along genius of 5 Rebeccas and the party-starting of Double Yellow Lines for instance – but across the board, there’s a far greater willingness on Which Bitch? to fuck with expectation, sounds, texture and atmosphere than anyone could’ve imagined after …Buskers (even if Face For The Radio hinted at it).

This is backed up by moments such as the amazingly touching ballad Unexpected (dedicated to Falconer’s deceased father) or the oompah-laced rock of Jimmy’s Crazy Conspiracy, but the finest ‘what the fuck?’ moment comes with Distant Dubloon, a mini-rock opera pirate-shanty that works as a strangely poignant allegory about street violence. It’s crazy, sure, but it’s also gobsmackingly ambitious, especially for a band who are all aged between 19 and 23.

Elsewhere there are brilliant oddities such as the recorder-led Realisation, the lazily heartfelt Covers (where they’re joined by the Paisley tones of Paulo Nutini), and sun-drenched epically beautiful closer Give Back The Sun, which perfectly caps off a remarkable achievement for a ragtag bunch of lairy Scots; with Which Bitch? they’ve managed to capture an incredible array of emotive oomph, but have avoided it coming across as wet by tempering it perfectly with their usual mutinous, hedonistic rawk. This is not bad for a band you expected to fall by the wayside as they sung about jeans and tradesmen as we all tired of pale Arctic Monkey ripoffs – The View fucking showed us.

By, Jaymz Clements, Beat (Australia), 18th February 2009


Post a Comment

<< Home