Curiously affecting and absolutely sincere, the View must cite more variations on the word “love” than any band since the Beatles.
Is it any coincidence that Cheeky for a Reason opens with the words “How long has it been”? How long, indeed. In the years since their highly acclaimed 2007 debut, Scottish four-piece the View have now released three more albums, and interest seems to have, to put it politely, exponentially diminished. Not that this reflects on the quality of the band itself. Far from it. From their initial stomping single, “Wasted Little DJs”, the View have had a winning mix of indie-pop, rock, and Northern enthusiasm.
There’s something endlessly charming about them, even if charm isn’t always enough to weather the changes in the land of pop. There seems to be little space for a quaintly rocking foursome in an insatiable, unstoppable pop landscape.
Perhaps that’s why the View seem somehow out of time, out of place. There’s a hint of '70s rock in the guitar licks, some '80s production, even a '90s adherence to Britpop. But no consistent trend unifies this guitar pop group, apart from a genial likability that’s hard to resist.
Despite my initial skepticism for a band releasing four albums in under six years, Cheeky for a Reason is, despite the dreadful title, a pretty lovely pop album. Maybe its endless sunniness is a much-needed antidote to the cold weather, maybe it’s just the passage of time, but the strained grinning of their first album has mellowed into a rather lovely effervescence. It’s like leaving seltzer out in reverse: what was flat has found its sparkle.
Something in their mix of plaintive and silly hearkens back to a Voxtrot kind of indie pop seemingly forsaken for dance beats and outrageous posturing; a kind of sweetness best suited to adolescence. Curiously affecting, absolutely sincere, from the sing-along chants of “Anfield Row” to the stomping Oasis rocker “Hold on Now”, the View must cite more variations on the word “love” than any band since the Beatles.
There’s not exactly much of an edge to the View’s brand of pop. In terms of sound, they hit their most topical with the slight dance hook on “Bunker (Solid Ground)”, but seldom vary from the same brand of winning indie rock. Frontman Kyle Falconer might describe the current album as “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by the Clash”, but let’s be honest, Fleetwood Mac sound positively brutal compared to these boys.
Is it a great album? No, not really. It doesn’t need to be. It just needs to get you through another winter and another lonely season. I think it might just do that. Despite their former trendiness, or perhaps because of it, this is a markedly uncool album. There are no models posing, no louche downtown boys with cigarettes and leather jackets. There’s a handful of curiously affecting pop tunes, songs that can ask “Where did all the love go?” and be not only not an embarrassment, but genuinely good. That’s a work of art, even if it won’t put them back on the top of the charts. They were kind enough to deliver one perfect song, the timeless “Lean on My World”, and after that, well, really, that’s enough. Pay no attention to the pop charts, boys, you’re doing just fine.