The View - 'Ropewalk'
With the aid of Albert Hammond Jr, the Dundonian quartet return with a creative, eclectic fifth
That the release of ‘Ropewalk’ was delayed while frontman Kyle Falconer checked into the Hope Clinic in Thailand – the same rehab facility as Pete Doherty – to kick an addiction to drugs and alcohol, will do little to erase the old 2007 perception of The View as ‘Liberteens’ – four caners who worshipped the ground that Doherty had passed out on. It’s a shame, because the Dundonian band have proved themselves willing to chance their arm creatively – no more so than here.
On their fifth album, producer Albert Hammond Jr – assisted by his longtime Strokes’ collaborator Gus Oberg – provides kindling for The View’s fire. His first job as boss was to rip up the demos Kyle and co brought. Instead tracks were built up in the studio. The result is an album teeming with hooks and melodies butting up against countermelodies, and a crisp, vibrant pop production. ‘Under The Rug’ – the first ever song penned by guitarist Pete Reilly – starts off with a quintessentially Strokes-y guitar line before bursting into a summery, jubilant Levellers tune, while ‘Marriage’ is a skeletal quasi-R&B number with a bass that recalls Tiga’s ‘Sunglasses At Night’. Hammond Jr saw Kyle’s vocals as The View’s secret weapon; and he buries songs in a terrine of layered vocals, such as on ‘Talk About Two’ – Brylcreemed doo-wop straight out of John Waters’ [i]Cry Baby[/i].
Meanwhile, ‘Psychotic’ seemingly deals most explicitly with Kyle’s demons. Over a track that sounds like Simple Minds covering The Cure, he laments about being high, concluding “[i]the stuff you call your saviour is really killing you[/i]”. Steeped in sleet-skied squalor, ‘Cracks’ is the closest the album comes to the ramshackle View of yore, and sees bassist Kieren Webster barrel through a punky torrent that recalls early Jamie T in his tar-thick Tayside brogue – you’re more likely to decipher Babymetal’s lyrics.
The diversity continues with ‘Tenement Light’. Channeling the lip-curling glam strut delivery of Marc Bolan, it’s like T Rex fronting the Ramones – before partway through the periscope of The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ pops up for a psych diversion. While the barometer of public taste has shifted from the days when working class boys-with-guitars were rife, you have to applaud The View for updating their legacy without resorting to déjà-View or an EDM chart-landgrab.
Release date: 04 Sep, 2015