Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back to 2006, the writing was obviously on the wall for purveyors of exuberant, guitar-led pop. So as the View prepared to released their much heralded debut, Hats Off to the Buskers, their anthemic indie sound had almost become an irrelevance, a parody of itself.
Britpop had been dead for a decade, but it’s defaced tomb still loomed large over the landscape of popular music. The intervening years had seen indie pop struggle to escape the ominous shadows cast by that period, with some artists trying to kick against their dubious inheritance, whilst others smiled for the camera and cashed the cheques. Music was searching for its next defining generation, but for every zeitgeist highlight there was a Twang, a Fratellis, a Razorlight or a Kooks. Music festival footnotes, waiting in the wings to plod through another crowd manipulating, emotionally vapid bestseller.
That’s not to say the View’s particular brand of jaunty, crowd-pleasing tunes were without merit. The teenage quartet from Dundee, with a Scottish patois and youthful charm, were the most promising sound to appear from what had become an indistinguishable morass. The problem was, they arrived late in the day and the party-after-the-after-party was winding down, we were all packing up and getting ready to go home. So I suppose it’s a testament to their tenacity that as we flash forward five years, the View have not disappeared into the aether and are in fact are releasing their fourth album, Cheeky for a Reason.
In promotional interviews, singer Kyle Falconer’s has been quoted as saying that they wanted this record to sound like; “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by the Clash”. It goes without saying that it doesn’t, lacking the emotion of the former, the raw power of the latter and the longevity of either. For die-hard fans however, Cheeky for a Reason won’t disappoint, because they’re still capable of producing the joyous, thumping, singalongs they’ve come to be known for since their 2006 debut single, the infectious earworm that was “Wasted Little DJ’s”.
At its best, the View’s sound is scientifically designed to soundtrack a thousand summer festivals and on tracks like “How Long”, “AB (We Need Treatment)” or “Sour Little Sweetie” you can almost see the steam rise off the crowds as they enthusiastically pogo up and down, screaming along to the lyrics. The problem is that The View seem acutely aware of these demands, so they rarely stray from the tried and tested formula and soon things begin to wear thin. As one track becomes indistinguishable from the next, “Anfield Row” and “Bullet” collide into a messy vortex of stadium claps and football chants, whilst “Hole in the Bed” sounds like a self-indulgent Libertines b-side, as covered by the Sweet.
It’s a shame, because when they eventually move on from the by-the-numbers approach, their music comes alive. The final two tracks, “Lean on My World” and in particular “Tacky Tattoo”, showcase a tenderness and depth which has been less apparent in their previous offerings. Hinting toward the broader lyrical and melodic vision which might one day be worthy of Falconer’s bold allusions to a bands with a grander legacies.
Some might mark this album as a career best for the View and it’s certainly their most coherent and consistent release to date, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it comes too late. If this had been their debut, back in the mid-’00s, it would have been lauded it as a spirited release that shows promise for the future, but the world has moved on and cartoonish, anthemic, indie pop is no longer the musical vanguard. They may go onto greater things, certainly there are hints to that possibility, but whilst youth remains on their side, time and taste does not. As Falconer sings on “Clocks”; “The clock has no sympathy” and you can’t help but feel this time, he’s hit the nail on the head.