Released 14th March 2010
Energetic, punky, indie-rock with a Scottish accent. That is how I would describe The View’s upbeat sound. The first track I heard was ‘Same Jeans’ way back in 2007, which reached number 3 in the UK singles charts, and from that first listen I remember finding it refreshingly simple and summery. Since the initial success of their debut album, Hats Off to the Buskers, the Dundee band have released a second album Which Bitch? in 2009, which was critically approved but made little headway in the album charts, and have now released their third effort Bread and Circuses.
The band’s influences have always been clear- The Clash, Oasis, the Libertines– and to a certain extent these remain so in Bread and Circuses, except the combinations of ska, rock and punk shift to create songs that inhabit noticeably different styles. So, impressively for a band that have been together for just six years, they’ve developed a slant that’s all their own. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s very good. The lyrics are sometimes a little hard to decipher due to the broad Scottish accent of lead singer Kyle Falconer, but the opening track ‘Grace’ gets the album off at a strong pace; ‘Girl’ and ‘Life’ continue this, confident, well-executed festival tunes. I like the smoothness, hand-clapping and close vocal harmonies of eighth track ‘Blondie’ a lot.
Before I listened to the album, I found myself wondering whether or not the Scottish quartet are one trick ponies, on the one hand excelling at capturing a youthful, lively spirit in their fast, guitar focused tracks and on the other failing to balance that with more meaningful, mellow songs that give the necessary variation on an album. Surprisingly, the track that really stood out for me was the subtler, but still catchy ‘Friend’, which aligns loss of faith with the disappointments of a night out- “the girl that I’ve been speaking to all night, has left me for my friend” is a great line. The building up of layers and clever arrangement is impressive.
The problem this throws up is that the mature and thoughtfully written tracks such as ‘Friend’ make the bouncier, undemanding ‘Beautiful’ and the intentionally (I assume) amusing but actually quite annoying ‘Witches’ sound a bit like album filler material. The originality of ‘Friend’ and others make you realise that the rest is a little uninspiring, though fun and cheerful.
Having said that, those up-tempo tracks maintain the effortless high standard set by The View’s first album and will be great for those hot, sunny weeks when you should be revising but are actually just lazing about on the grass outside Stags, only eating food that’s been cooked on a barbeque. The more I listen to ‘Sunday’, the first single, the more I love it. Bread and Circuses should appeal to the band’s old fan base, but offers something more that might attract some new support- not perfect but definitely worth a listen.
Good: The album retains enough of The View’s characteristic dynamic sound while adding better slower tracks than previous albums.
Bad: The standard falters on some tracks, making them unmemorable.