Cast your mind back, if you will, to 2007; Gordon Brown became the new Prime Minister, Northern Rock were bailed out and it was the end of the world’s most famous franchise as the final Harry Potter book was published. The View also released debut album, Hats Off To The Buskers.
The album, riding on the back of other indie-landfill and garage rock bands, shot to number one in the UK charts with a Mercury-nomination to boot, whilst songs ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Superstar Tradesman’ became anthems for the teenage masses and midlife-crisis Dads.
For most of us, that was probably the last you heard of them; like most of the indie bands of that era, their popularity subsided like a burst balloon. In fact, this was even more a problem for the Dundee quartet who joined the genre whilst it was already in decline. The Kooks, Razorlight, The Fratellis, The Libertines and even the Kazier Chiefs are just a few of the bands who fell by the wayside in various ways and means, unable to reignite their early masses back to attention.
The View were no different; producing two – essentially failed – albums (the third ‘Bread & Circuses’ missed my radar by a mile) with their highest placing single coming in at lofty 57.
Some lesser bands may have given up; The View are still plugging away, however, with the release of fourth album, Cheek For A Reason this month. Lead single ‘How Long’ may be pleasant and all – radio-friendly, chants of youthful lyrics and classic indie rock guitar – but sounds incredibly dated and unrelevant; its like McFly on speed.
The sheer unpertinence of the album can be found in other tracks too; ‘Anfield Road’ reverts 15 years into the past with its pub rock britpop twang while ‘Hold On Now’ terrace-chanting quality shows the target audience of the release is the new generation of teenage rebels and to fill in the Libertine-size void.
Yet, “lad rock” has essentially died in recent times, with Kasabian being the only band able to keep up the mantle, though only by incorporating a variety of different inspirations and elements and embarking on a far more advanced sound. The View, in comparison, sounds primitive with their lite-indie sound, humming guitars and best lyrics of cliches like “living with bad things that I’ve done”.
There are elements of good on the album; ending wistful ballad ‘Tacky Tattoo’ is a song that would not disgrace the latter Arctic Monkey releases (even if the lyrics are somewhat bereft of Alex Turner’s poetry).
‘Bullet’ certainly gets the foot tapping and seems perfect for those festival dates with the “woahhh” background vocals. And it may not tickle everyone’s fancy, but ‘Hole in the Bed’ certainly has its merits; a Wombats-like whimsy with Falconer’s vocals taking on a raspy Rotten-esque effect. A strange mix, agreed, but it works. It is in these less glossy and more rough sounding songs where the band find their balance.
It does, however, reveal the very problem with the album; its music masquerading as detailed punky garage rock, but with juvenile lyrics and clean production values, its hard to place it as anything more substantial. The band seem lost as to what direction to take, thus produce a mish-mash of songs from the indie spectrum.
Granted, I’m probably no longer part of the target market of college teenagers and NME readers. And, of course, it doesn’t help when you describe an album as ‘Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by the Clash’ and then produce a collection of indie lad-rock inspired songs.
All in all though, there is still something there for the View; the music is still listenable with catchy melodies and Falconer’s Scottish croak helping the band separate themselves from other contemporaries. I’m not writing them off yet, but who knows How Long they can keep going for.