“It’s one of those albums that grows on you, but it can only grow so much…”
The View | Cheeky For A Reason
For a while, this writer has shied away from bands like The View. Perhaps it was naive musical snobbery dictating that only technically complex tunes should ever be considered as listenable, but there is just something quite aggravating about a band that can make it with very simple four-chord tunes, and a straight drum beat. But coming back to indie-pop, it’s undeniable that The View have a definitive personality in all of their songs, and an unmistakable overtone of ‘truthfully, we don’t really care.’ Studying them live, they seem like a hapless pastiche to the sensibility of Arctic Monkeys, who themselves proclaimed that they ‘didn’t want to get famous’. The release of The View’s new record Cheeky for a Reason has been fairly under-the-radar, but it feels as if maybe this was the band’s plan all along. They certainly seem much more content hopping around a Scottish pub, a pint in hand and a grin on their faces.
Despite the poor reception of last year’s Bread and Circuses, The View’s new release promises something of a return to form. The album opens with the blisteringly cheerful ‘How Long’, which might just be one of the catchiest songs ever released. Literally, while typing away, it’s running around the brain on repeat. The chorus is a resounding chant that just breathes a jovial atmosphere, the kind of melodic anthem that would have people jumping on their tables in a Dundee pub (probably what they designed the song for in the first place), and Kyle Falconer’s distinct Scottishness – falling more in line with The Proclaimers than the more recent alt-rockers Biffy Clyro – shines through as a gleaming edge to the spirit of the music.
Most of the album follows in similar fashion – a series of major scale runs, on top of a four chord structure, with Falconer throatily proclaiming something indistinguishable – and, unfortunately, these songs end up being relatively forgettable in the shadow of the album’s opening. Songs like ‘AB (We Need Treatment)’, ‘Hold On Now’ and ‘Bunker (Solid Ground)’ all end up getting lost amidst the songs that at least try to do something different.
The better side of the album includes ‘Bullet’, containing the lyrical origin for the title of the album, Cheeky for a Reason, sneakily tucked away in a verse. Saying that, it was nice to have an ‘ah, so that’s where it’s from’ moment. ‘The Clock’ is the first song on the album to flow from a minor key, but instead of establishing an emotional shift into the serious, the sound that they deliver inevitably ends up sounding like something from a Spaghetti Western, especially when we get to the choral declaration, ‘The clock has no sympathy’.
Despite it’s failings, there are moments here that really make this album stand out as something unique. ‘Piano Interlude’, following ‘The Clock’, acts as the album’s divisive moment and in just twelve seconds, flips the overtone of the album on its head, ready for the final four tracks, the last of which – ‘Tacky Tattoo’ – might just be the best song on the album. It’s a return to the piano, in the guise of a shimmery keyboard, with the emotional intensity of Falconer’s vocals exposed by the stripped-back style. The only thing that draws away from the beauty of the track are the lyrics, which offer something a little less mature; ‘The girl with the tacky tattoo/ Is the one you shouldn’t do.’ It’s funny, but it could have fit better in a more upbeat song. Ignore the lyrics though, and this finale could make you weep.
For The View, this is a good album that delivers something to die-hard fans to listen to for months and not get bored of. And yes, it is one of those albums that grows on you, but it can only grow so much, with the group sounding strangely restricted by their own rudimentary style. It’s unlikely to convert first-time listeners to die-hard disciples of the group, but it’s… nice. It’s a nice album. But it isn’t really any better than that.