The View - Bread And Circuses

Scottish band The View return to us with Bread And Circuses - and a curious little thing it is too. Produced by Youth ( The Verve's Urban Hymns), the melodiously upbeat arrangements mask an undercurrent of unease and discontent that runs through the entire album. While not possessing the oomph of their celebrated first album, the Mercury award nominated Hats Off To The Buskers, this album is more accessible than 2009's Which Bitch with the band returning to hook oriented songwriting. The songs have a feel of a two-finger salute to the critics who dissed their "over-ambitious" second album. The arrangements are decidedly poppy yet the lyrics are all about one thing: getting your heart broken into little tiny pieces.

Aside from a couple of clunkers - we'll get to those later - Bread And Circuses contains some of the best tunes these boys have ever produced. Spit-fire, infectious, wonderful indie-pop that will make your head spin with joy. 'Grace' comes barging in all its pissed-off glory; "And this is me trying to be kind I want you to know," says Kyle Falconer before continuing with "I’m a sober boy and you’re a lonely girl / So lets give it up and stay out of each other’s worlds." It seems that Falconer has taken his split from his girlfriend pretty badly. The excellent 'Underneath The Lights' follows in which Falconer tries to console himself in the arms of someone else, his Scottish brrrrrogue more pronounced then ever making the song sound like an indie Brigadoon: "And now we've kissed, let's make the most of this / I don't care who's wrong / I just don't want to go home alone." 'Tragic Magic' and the quirky 'Girl' continue the album's cracking start.

Unfortunately the album stumbles with 'Life' and 'Friend' which descend into lumbering 'you broke my heart and I hate you for it' wallowing. 'Life' is unforgivably "X-factor boy band" tripe: "I want you to know that I've no place to go / I want you to see what you've done to me", while the rather cool melody of 'Friend' cannot mask the rather uninspiring lyrics.

However this is only a minor setback and the album returns to the dash of the opening numbers, the highlights being the stupendous 'Sunday', the bitter 'Walls' and the ironically titled 'Happy', its painful lyrics bringing home the singer's heartache: "I wasn't born to make you happy / I wasn't born to make you sad / And though you see my sweet surrender / you're still the bitch that makes me mad."

It is a sad fact that broken hearts can result in killer tunes; misery loves company, especially when it's as much fun as this. Though we can regret Falconer's pain, we can take comfort in the knowledge that it was the inspiration for some first-rate songs. Cathartic and lovely, Bread And Circuses is pure self-indulgent fun.

Overall

7

out of 10

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