It's ten years since The View first appeared with their superb debut Hats Off To The Buskers , an album filled to the brim with tales of Dundonian nightlife that still sounds fresh as a daisy now. Their fifth album Ropewalk is one the band feel returns to the feel and sound of their debut and it certainly shares that record's lively enthusiasm. The band are ten years older now though so there is obviously going to be a maturer edge to the sound, as ridiculous as that sounds for a band still in their twenties. What Ropewalk does is combine the verve of Hats Off... with clever songwriting to produce an album that's a real treat.
The album is co-produced by Albert Hammond Jnr and his ear for instantly catchy guitar pop is all over this record. Opener Under The Rug is a prime example of how his production has helped The View add new layers to their sound. A Beatles like summery chorus is the counterpoint of this confident, excellent start to the album. It's followed by Marriage a song that Kyle Falconer had kicking around for a few years before Hammond and his fellow producer Gus Oberg teased it out of him, creating a vibrant, slightly Strokes like track albeit one that has a far sparser and smoother sound than that description would suggest. It's a great song basically. The next standout comes a couple of tracks later with Talk About Two which is the sort of song you'd imagine The Everley Brothers coming out with in the mid 60's. It's a prime slice of pop straight from that era and is quite wonderful.
The interesting thing about this album is that it pushes the band in new directions whilst never diluting The View's core essence. Psychotic for example, is a track that would have been far rockier in the band's earlier days, but here the focus is more on mood than noise highlighting the lyrics ("Life was more simple/When you were more nuts") not burying them. A happy consequence of that is that you hear how good a singer Falconer is. Cracks is one of the more straightforwardly "View like" tracks here albeit and suffers from that a bit, though it's saved by the chorus having a glam rock type feel which is rather cool. The next track Tenement Light retains the glam rock feel, coming over like a frantic Fife based T-Rex and then House Of Que's takes a turn towards Arctic Monkeys A.M mixed with 70's Paul McCartney which is all rather pleasant. The album comes to a close with the riotus Penny and the wonderful finale Voodoo Doll, which again recalls Paul McCartney's solo works, in part due to the music and in part due to Falconer's voice which sounds at least 20 years older than it is. Voodoo Doll is another of the album's standouts and an apt way to end the album.
Ropewalk is a really surprising and most enjoyable album. The View sound as good and as fresh as they ever did, perhaps part inspired by having one of their heroes Hammond ("Cause he's in The Strokes!" as Falconer recently said) co-producing. It's a vibrant album that is full of energy and it's easily up there with Hats Off To The Buskers as one of The View's best.