The View | Hats Off to the Buskers (1965)

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Imagine if Oasis and the Libertines had a baby, and that baby didn't think he was the greatest thing in the world. That baby would probably like Hats Off to the Buskers.

 

From the Dryburgh district of Dundee comes the biggest thing to hit Scotland's fourth largest city since Average White Band. They are indie-rock-upstarts the View, and their U.K.-acclaimed debut album, Hats Off to the Buskers, has already received high marks for jumping to #1 on the U.K. charts in its first week out on the shelves (the album is out March 13 in "The States"). On the strength of their first single, "Wasted Little DJs," the quartet of Kyle Falconer, Peter Reilly, Kieren Webster, and Steven Morrison have brought their youthful (their website maintains that the average band member's age is 18!) ramshackle pop to realize an immense amount of media potential. Just two years ago, the View was merely realizing its name as they rehearsed in the back room of the Bayview Pub (from which they were later banned in some sort of scooter-riding-on-the-bar incident). Now, the four lads are opening for Babyshambles, a coup accomplished by their own busking efforts in front of Pete Doherty, and working with producer Owen Morris of Oasis fame.

For such inexperience, the View has succeeded in finding its voice—however green it may be—with Hats Off to the Buskers. Relying largely on the thick Scottish warble of Falconer, the songs stay true to their themes of distrust and inadequacy in the face of false perceptions. (You know? Usual teenager stuff.) Falconer's subjects are elusive, though, as he jumps from a pitiable heroine addict on the bouncy "Skag Trendy" to some typically corny love-laments on "Claudia," for whom he sings, "You probably didn't see/ Oh, I'm a nervous one/ My pain, it comes easily." Don't worry, man. I see. Then there are instances like those in "Gran's for Tea" in which poverty in the face of council housing is at stake, and Falconer shows a charming vulnerability as he cries, "You lower your standards and expectations of love/ You never aim for people that you think are levels above." These humble reminders belie the View's youth, and allow Hats Off to the Buskers to be seen through sincere eyes, when it's called for.

Musically, the View assembles a mixture of punk, new-retro riffs (á la Kings of Leon or the Strokes), and otherwise sped-up Americana/rhythm and blues. Couple this with frantic, literally rolling vocals of near incoherence, and you have a somewhat unique sound. Imagine if Oasis and the Libertines had a baby, and that baby didn't think he was the greatest thing in the world. That baby would probably like Hats Off to the Buskers.

On "Superstar Tradesman," there's the "quit your day job" mentality mixed with sweet, longing vocals and ringing leads. With "Same Jeans," there's an immense display of Scottishness, a bob-your-head melody, and a feeling of harmless fun. The album's zenith, though, comes with back-to-back pop/rock perfection in "Face for Radio" and "Wasted Little DJs." The first is a light, acoustic ballad full of cynicism, yet its simple beauty makes for a great Sunday drive. The second, a tight single with an impossibly addictive chorus, holds an element I'd never thought I'd address. For the first ten listens, you'll find yourself singing along, but have no idea what's really being said. Here's a hint: It's Pig Latin. Fucking Pig Latin! What's even more strange is that, despite the stupidity of this, the song is very good, and I think that therein lies much of the View's appeal. As long as you don't take it too seriously, you'll have a lot of fun. B++ | Dave Jasmon

RIYL: The Kooks, Long Blondes, The Oasis-Libertines baby

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