Cheeky for a Reason
It can be tough to change gear when you're trapped in a groove, as some of the world's biggest indie bands discovered before breaking up. Oasis spent much of their final decade making bold statements about modernising their sound, only to emerge with much of the same. And REM famously attempted to make a frenetic punk record after the country-fuelled Out of Time, but wound up with Automatic for the People, a downbeat album about death.
The popular Scottish rockers The View have not made an Automatic for the People, sadly, but were clearly aiming to soak up some of that windswept Americana on this, their fourth album. Famed for unrelentingly chirpy indie pop, they've now forged an unlikely alliance with the renowned US hit maker Angelo Petraglia. The Nashville-based writer/producer works with country superstars such as Taylor Swift and Trisha Yearwood, but more pertinent is his influence on Kings of Leon, the backwoods roughnecks turned chart regulars.
Petraglia co-wrote three songs on this record, and at least one, The Clock, is an impressive change of pace for the Dundee quartet. The singer Kyle Falconer suggests in the accompanying notes that the album sounds like "Fleetwood Mac's Rumours done by The Clash", and hints of the older band's classic rock blueprint abound here. Major chords clang evocatively, there's a beefy guitar solo and there's even some Stevie Nicks-style breathy vocals.
Another of the joint compositions, Bullet, kicks in with a reverberating riff reminiscent of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. But in truth, these are rare departures, as left to their own devices the band remain mired in their original mould. The View's default setting is a sort of indie Monkees, awash with chirpy romps but with little gravitas or any real attempt at defining a unique sound.
That uncompromising Scottish brogue occasionally adds an air of undeserved mystique. Sour Little Sweetie is a sub-Strokes anthem that demands further listening only because Falconer's lyrical flow is so hard to follow, while the slang often intrigues. "Milk turns sour, when left on the bunker for days," he sings on Bunker (Solid Ground). A bunker, it transpires, is a kitchen worktop, which hardly stirs the soul.
There are signs of progress on Cheeky for a Reason but, as that title suggests, the overall tone is overly jaunty, bordering on the juvenile. For now, The View remain anything but a serious proposition.