When is a greatest hits collection not a greatest hits? When the band is The View and the album is Seven Year Setlist (Cooking Vinyl).
Rather, it’s a compilation of their favourite live tracks – and is even set to roughly reflect a sweaty, heaving gig with a bounding moshpit. But a live show will always include singles and the best album tracks. And, of course, most of the best-known singles are here too.
Regardless, Seven Year Setlist shows that the Dundonians have been one of the more illuminating acts over the past few years, with songs like Gran’s for Tea reflecting their working class upbringing, namechecking the city itself and relating a tale of life in a hard-man heavy housing scheme. Alas, that’s not on here, but Skag Trendy, Same Jeans and their finest four minutes, Wasted Little DJs all are, as you would expect of course.
Skag Trendy in particular shows some mature thinking from the four-piece as they relate the sad story of a teenager who’s thrown out of his house by his mum, who doesn’t understand his problems, and is forced to live in “complete and utter social deterioration”.
As is de rigeur for such occasions, there’s unreleased material included, a fairly generous three tracks here. Kill Kyle opens the Setlist, and is far from throwaway, and though Standards is more La’s than Clash, it’s a fine pop song, though two versions may be overdoing it.
While many bands of their ilk (think Fratellis) have petered out pretty quickly, The View still have the knack of churning out great radio-friendly anthems, and the new material suggests there’s a lot of life in this dog yet.
If the View might be regarded as the cheeky chappies of British rock, Editors are the stern-faced, literary PhD students. Now on their fourth album – The Weight of Your Love (PIAS) – they aren’t intending to change, and for that we must applaud them.
But there is some change from the previous effort, In This Light And On This Evening, whose adoption of synths over moody posturing and epic soundscapes was never going to work.
Back to basics, to the first two albums. But it’s no The Back Room (2005) which introduced us to their deep and delirious efforts to sound both like Simple Minds, circa 1980, and Joy Division, an ambition that actually worked.
On Sugar, which contains some pile-driving basslines, Tom Smith sings of the dilemmas: “it breaks my heart to love you.”. The exceptional A Ton of Love, has student disco anthem written all over it. It’s by far the standout track, with Smith sounding intense, complaining that “he doesn’t trust the government, I don’t even trust myself.” powered by a riff reminiscent of early Echo and the Bunnymen.
What comes after is something I find hard to put to paper, such is the agony and mockery. What Is This Thing Called Love was apparently written by Smith for an X Factor contestant. The thought of a talentless fop reaching the high notes in a vain bid to impress a group of has-beens shouldn’t be taken seriously, but the sound of Smith in faux-falsetto range is more than can be tolerated. In an instant the quality has dipped, with neither Honesty nor Nothing worth sitting on, even with the orchestral arrangements on the latter.
Some form of salvation is proferred in the Cure-esque Formaldehyde and the slow-then-quick tempo of Hyena.
However, the final three tracks provide the irreristible temptation of the forward button with a lazy comparison to Coldplay being somewhat inevitable. That’s a cruel comparison but a hard one to avoid.
My initial draft had been somewhat uncomplimentary about The Weight of Your Love. I scrubbed that on the basis of a few standouts, mentioned above, but the balladry and the clear attempts at stadium (c)rock of a few other tracks deprive it a highly-favourable review and if I was to mark it out of ten, five stars would be more than enough.