1 January 2009

Their jeans may not have changed, but their sound definitely has. Almost two years since debut album "Hats Off To The Buskers" propelled them to rock stardom, The View are back with their second effort which, to say the least, is a brave move in terms of their sound. Some songs on "Which Bitch?" are more suited to, say, a fifth or sixth album when a band is more confident in their sound and can branch out. You'd never expect them to be on a second album from a band who aren't really a household name, apart from one song.

Beginning with "Typical Time Part 2", a follow-on from the debut's final track and a fun, throwaway piece of pop. Using just a piano, harmonica and guitar, it sets up stall for the album to be something slightly different but equally as fun as The View's previous material. "5 Rebbeccas" is a return to what the band do best; catchy indie anthems. But whereas previously their songs were reminiscent of The Libertines, their sound now owes more to that of Oasis with the wall of guitars and feedback. Looks like they've got another "built-for-the-festivals" hit then.

Yet another change of direction on "One Off Pretender". The guitars are a mix of The Stone Roses, U2 and The Coral (basically lots of reverb and delay and quite widdly) and the vocals go from virtually rapped to typical lad-rock shouting. Definitely different, but whether it's popular with fans remains to be seen. Guess what's coming next? Yes, it's another change in terms of sound and possibly the most melancholy song The View have ever released. Haunting strings dominate "Unexpected" over Kyle's down-in-the-dumps vocals and it's not something you'd think the band who wrote "Wasted Little DJs" could produce, but someow it works.

The rest of the album is populated with these kind of suprises. There's liberal use of string arrangements on quite a few tracks, an appearance from Paolo Nutini (no, come back! It's an alright song, I promise), a track going over the 6-minute mark and some Oasis-aping acoustic tracks. The middle of the album is where it gets even more interesting. "Glass Smash", heavy as "Brianstorm" and a rather creepy middle eight; "Distant Doubloon", just piano and strings with a distinct piratey feel to it; "Covers" (the Paolo Nutini track), a summery slice of acoustic pop with added trumpet. Then we arrive at "Shock Horror" the second single from the album. It's what you'd expect from the band and more, kind of like "Wasted Little DJs" older brother. It's more taut and foucsed, yet just as good as anything they've done.

The View may not be the msot popular band with some indie snobs but "Which Bitch?" is a future classic. The album has something for everyone; typical Yates's customers, mums who buy their records at Tesco, miserable hipsters, festival goers. It will be interesting to see where The View go from here. They might return to Libertines knock-offs, they could make another "Be Here Now" or another classic. We'll just have to wait and see. Though I still haven't got a clue what they're singing about half the time.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "5 Rebbeccas", "Unexpected", "Shock Horror"

9/10 (Which Bitch?)
8.5/10 (Shock Horror)

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