WITH the level of popularity they’ve attained and the cataclysmic manner in which they arrived on the scene, The View’s career is a journey that has been beset by peaks and valleys. Finding their footing in the once thriving indie rock scene that spawned the closest thing rock ‘n’ roll has had to a cultural movement since the 80’s, it once seemed as though the Dundonian lads could unfortunately be casualties of this era in the way that many bands who refused to evolve were.
Luckily for us, this is certainly not the case, with the hard hitting four piece surpassing what they accomplished on their last few albums and delivering the inventive Ropewalk.
Besieged by authoritative yet jangly guitar lines that operate on the oft aspired to peripheries of Fleetwood Mac during the classic Rumours era, ‘Under The Rug’ is an utterly electrifying opening volley that is spurred on by a sensational vocals from Kyle Falconer. This track is the equivalent of the Dundee lads poking their finger in your chest in the same manner that they did with Hats Off To The Buskers all those years ago, except this time they’re simply reminding everyone of the songwriting chops that they have at their disposal.
A well documented fact for those that keep up to date with the band’s career, this record has seen them branch out, including getting into the studio with Albert Hammond JR; the architect and guitarist behind The Strokes’ signature sound and not to mention a tremendous artist in his own right.
You wouldn’t need to go over the record with a fine tooth comb in order to find traces of his influence as his fingerprints are all over the record; allowing the band to transition from one idea to the next with enhanced fluidity.
This is evidenced on ‘Marriage’, a track which blends their typical structure with intricate drumming and an exquisite bassline that harks back to The Strokes on records such as First Impressions Of Earth and the more outwardly experimental Angles.
‘Living’ is a remarkably chirpy number which is sure to instil joy in your heart from a musical standpoint. Its lyrics are something of a different story altogether, focusing on the concept of “living just to be alive” which borders on the existential and is somewhat at odds with its instrumentation.
The run of strong choruses that occurs in the run-up to ‘Talk Two’ certainly continues but albeit in a different mould, with Falconer summoning up his vocal prowess to deliver a soaring performance which veers towards stadium rock style histrionics. Pitted alongside a rewarding guitar solo which is akin to David Gilmour at his most restrained, it’s an interesting consolidation of concepts into a cohesive track.
Operating above a foundation of fizzling feedback; ‘Psychotic’ is an ode to someone who’s lost their way, seemingly set on their downward trajectory by neglecting their wellbeing in favour of misguided excess. Featuring such thought provoking lines as “the only time I am lonely is when when I’m with you’, what becomes all too clear at this midway point is that we’re listening to the Dryburgh lads astutely mature before us.
‘Cracks’ acts as an almost nostalgic moment the context of the album, being the closest thing we get to anything approaching The View sound of old. As bassist Kieren Webster assumes lead vocals and makes use of his distinctive and eccentric drawl, what results is a well presented slice of punchy rock ‘n’ roll that will appeal to fans old and new.
‘Tenement Light’ is pure, potent punk rock; clamouring for the genre’s 77’ heyday with aggressive guitar that could’ve been summoned at the hands of Mick Jones himself. On the other hand, ‘House of Queues’ is a demure and gentile composition which makes their growth as artists completely unequivocal; highlighting their new penchant for beautiful arrangements and moments of reflection that is certainly welcomed.
‘Penny’ almost comically lures in the listener with its saccharine piano and upbeat vocal melody before an onslaught in discordant and pleasingly destructive guitars make their way into the fray. The transitory outlook which has led to how the track has been put together continues to be exhibited as fast paced acoustic guitar makes itself known alongside a surprising burst of Steve Miller style talkbox.
Rounding things off in positively exuberant fashion ‘Voodoo Doll’ is a sprightly affair which expels as much energy as humanly possible during its 3 minute running time. Descending into sheer madness towards its climax, it would have came as a surprise on any of their earlier album’s but not on one which is so intent on pushing the boundaries.
Undoubtedly the shot in the arm that the band needed, Ropewalk has seen them push themselves as musicians and songwriters and reap the rewards; not to mention reaffirm the belief of the faithful. Pulling together influences and concepts to produce a vivacious and engrossing album that is brimming with everything from arresting riffs to meticulous and slick choruses; it is hoped that this record will set the precedent for how they progress from here on out.