THE punky charm that propelled The View to the top is back, but this fourth album’s blend of epic, wistful and wasted is frustratingly incoherent
THE VIEW: CHEEKY FOR A REASON
COOKING VINYL, £11.99
A list of chart positions for The View’s first three albums and their attendant singles will point to a band in decline, a group who peaked five years ago – just a few months into their career in the public eye – with Same Jeans, the boisterous Top 5 paean to being too wrecked to change your clothes, and its accompanying Mercury-nominated No 1 album, Hats Off to the Buskers.
For a band apparently on their way out, though, the reaction to their recent comeback set proper at Rock Ness was feverish, with an army of fans several hundred stronger than the capacity of the tent they’d been booked to play descending upon it and bringing the show to a halt. One upgrade into the ferociously busy larger tent the next day, and a point had been made – that no matter how the vagaries of national taste might fluctuate, the Dundonian quartet’s support in their homeland isn’t likely to fade any time soon.
There was also room for another revelation within that set: that the new songs debuted from this album, the band’s fourth and the first since Bread & Circuses closed their first record deal in unassuming style a little over a year ago, were actually pretty good. It’s an opinion that holds steady when applied to the record itself. Make no mistake, there are no boundaries being redrawn here, but Cheeky For a Reason is an enthusiastic pop record which gives the impression it’s at least made a bit of an effort on our behalf.
There is a sense that their label are trying to give them every chance to succeed. Produced by Mike Crossey (whose previous credits include Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight and Foals) at his Motor Museum Studios in Liverpool, three of the songs on the record were co-written by Angelo Petraglia, mentor and early producer of Kings of Leon.
Opener How Long is a great way to be introduced to the record and surely the band’s best chance of a Top 40 hit since 2007’s double A-side The Don and Skag Trendy worked out the remainder of Hats Off to the Buskers’ commercial goodwill. Racing in on a fast, thumping drumbeat from Steven Morrison, it veers into wailing guitar solos and the old-fashioned beat group impudence of Kyle Falconer’s central lyric, “how long has it been / since you fell in love with a boy like me?” – a modern update of the Faces filtered through the beat-up dishevelment of the Libertines.
They seem to have stumbled upon a formula which might give them a good chance of a chart hit, and so they stick with its head-thumping beat and amphetamine charge for AB (We Need Treatment). Hold On Now, though, has a more measured pace, a glam stomp with echoes of the Bay City Rollers, of all people, which mixes barely-concealed drug references and an old-fashioned kind of bad boy rock’n’roll impudence.
This tension between the wistfully romantic and the wastefully out of it rears its head at various points throughout the record, with Anfield Row slowing right down to a brisk jog and working its way through some prosaic, La’s-echoing anthemics as Falconer’s buzzing Dundonian accent tells us: “I love you but I have to leave / this old town, well it suffocates me.”
The opening four songs are strong, but it doesn’t last. Bullet is a fairly average track with a big harmonised Celtic holler at the end to enliven things, while Bunker (Solid Ground) is one of the least remarkable tracks here. The Clock is nicely understated, though, a wistful reflection on the passing of wasted time set upon a wailing guitar line from Pete Reilly and Falconer’s frustrated choral yell that “the clock has no sympathy”.
After a baffling piano interlude of just a few notes, the album labours to build to a grand finale, with Hole in the Bed and Sour Little Sweetie proving to be rather identikit mid-paced rockers, while Lean On My World at least suggests a bit of cohesion in the line “the place was never Liverpool / anywhere calling to me”, the suggestion being that at least some influences from the city in which the album was recorded have bled into it and into The View’s own style.
The La’s and Cast are chief among these, although the wrong-footing finale Tacky Tattoo finally allows the Beatles in too, right up to its melodramatic Day in the Life-style piano and the brief, Formby-esque hidden track at the end. Yet it also contains the album’s most horrific couplet in “the girl with the tacky tattoo / is the one that you shouldn’t do”, which is perhaps proof that The View should settle for having their boisterous mojo back once more before trying to go all epic on us.
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