The View - Which Bitch?
The debut by Dundee's The View was preceded by a couple of scruffy, yet enjoyable, scallywag punk tunes that proved to be the highlight of the album proper, leaving them synonymous with coat-tail Libertine-ism and everything that was wrong with British indie circa 2007. As American bands began to embrace prog and electronica influences, their trad beat pop seemed both naive and dated.
This follow-up fails to shed all that was wrong, but it has a smattering of adventure that raises the distinct possibility that - should they survive the recession - The View may turn into the kind of act people have a sneaky affection for, without ever owning up to the fact in public.
In terms of the bad stuff, "One Off Pretender" has the kind of rapping you might hear on an ITV sketch show and there are at least a handful of the tired skiffles that sounded dated even first time around. The single "5 Rebbecca's" and "Double Yellow Lines" are anthemic enough, showcasing Falconer's fondness for street-level sentimentality ("5 Rebecca's and all of them close to me / 1 of them's a cook, 1 of them does history / 1 of them's my niece and 1 lives close / The 1 I love the most has turned into a junkie") that's shared by Glasvegas' James Allan. His wide Dundonian drawl also arguably makes this the most incomprehensible album since Murmer but is at least distinctive.
It's when they drift off-template that the album reveals a hidden side. "Unexpected" is an effectively maudlin ode to a departed parent, Ollie Krauss' sweeping string arrangement bringing a sense of maturity to the young band. The parping oboes of "Distant Doubloon" herald something more Lionel Bart than Carl Barat, the result of a studio session fuelled by Mahler and Robert Louis Stevenson (Take that Vampire Weekend!) with Falconer's lyrics taking an unexpected twist into freeform ("The vertical hill town huns will leave you own back with your tannadiction chest") and a rare instance of the much-maligned 'c' word.
Which Bitch? is not a classic by any stretch. It won't turn around the naysayers but there's at least a mini-album's worth of good-to-great downloads here. Leave your preconceptions behind and be pleasantly surprised.