Ambition gels with ability and strengths, producing magic results.
Mark Beaumont 2011-03-02
The strict release structure of modern rock music – one album every couple of years, band dropped if they’re not serious contenders by album three – has encouraged the more stylistically ambitious acts to forget it took The Beatles seven albums to go from Please Please Me to Revolver and attempt a similar giant leap in just two. Such a band were Dundee’s The View, whose impressive but indigestible 2009 second album Which Bitch? was a sprawling hour meshing their melodic rock finesse with mariachi punk, pirate operettas, flute shanties and intoxicated brass experiments. An admirable folly, but for the pop pixies behind Wasted Little DJs, too much too soon.
So it’s refreshing to find them consolidate their not inconsiderable talents on third album Bread and Circuses, trimming the eclectic fat down to the lean power rock meat. Sharpened by producer Youth’s insistence that the band enunciate clearly and coloured a purpling scarlet by Kyle Falconer’s stories of love, drugs and violence on the streets of Dundee ("I’ve had so many hidings in the city that it’s stopped being rare," goes rollicking first single Grace, whole Tragic Magic is an enlightened take on the weekend drug binge and the punter/dealer dynamic), The View find an intensity and focus that gives these 12 tunes an irrepressible punch while still allowing them the indulgence of the odd fairground carousel or slinky blues middle eight when the fancy takes them.
Bread and Circuses, then, is where The View’s ambition gels seamlessly with their ability and strengths, and magic results. Girl is a jubilant hoedown about an annoying neighbour who’d regularly crash Kyle’s smoking sessions and nick all his gear; Life is as close as four blootered Scotsmen have ever come to a Take That torch song; the raucously romantic Underneath the Light makes pulling a groupie at a fist-swinging club gig sound like the stuff of a Richard Curtis rom-com. By the time Friend turns a classic case of cock-block ("The girl that I’ve been speaking to all night / Has left me for my friend") into an anti-religion funk disco number and Blondie and Sunday make effervescent stabs at being modern indie versions of Girls Just Want to Have Fun and St Elmo’s Fire respectively, The View’s thrill at their own limitless creativity has left little room for filler.
Their most coherent, alive and plain best album yet concludes with a stately and defiant epic called Best Lasts Forever – full of bravado for their own brilliance and longevity – and a playful oompah coda called Witches, its solos played on paper and comb. So you see, lads, it is possible to be fun and fantastic.