- Jack Price
The Bandwagon:Viva Brother
This week’s bandwagon is a bit of a throwback. The wheels came of this wagon after just over a year. 2011 was a long time ago, the first words weren’t as famous as the debut album promised. But it’s here. The once eagerly anticipated follow up. Yep Viva Brother are back, with the- hopefully better received second words. But does anyone give a shit? Should anyone give a shit? This writer does, in a reminiscent sort of way. But not without trepidation.When Viva Brother first hit the scene (before the Viva was added after a legal debacle with an Australian folk band), were signed after one gig, got thrown onto the cover of NME with some controversial quotes about their self-coined 'grit-pop', it seemed like they and the music press had elected an heir to the British guitar music throne. As is so often the case, the band with the weight of the industry on their shoulders couldn’t live up to the hype, crumbled and faded into obscurity and infamy.
The album ‘Famous First Words’ wasn’t perfect. But it certainly wasn’t as bad as people have made out in the years since. I re-listened to it recently and while still sounding like a collection of Gallagher brothers B-sides, it did bring back some memories of high school and isn’t that what the band were always about? Remembering and paying homage to the past? The ridicule and abuse that the band received afterwards was hardly warranted or fair. Were the songs all that original? Probably not. Did they seem arrogant? Yes. Did people enjoy watching them fail? Yes. But can you blame 4 young lads doing what they love for believing in their own hype? The same magazines that put them onto a pedestal ended up having just as big a hand in tearing them down. Which is why this low-key comeback, with its one gig to celebrate album 'II' finally seeing the light of day, is particularly interesting. Viva Brother seemed to always cause a reaction at every stage of their short lived career so will there be any reaction this time around or will it just be me listening?
This is a rare opportunity for a ridiculed band to reinvent themselves and their legacy. All of my questions will be no doubt answered by social media and the music press over the coming days. 'II' has its moments where the best of Viva Brother comes to play, but they also showcase a new side of themselves.
The addition of a melancholic synth on serval tracks seems representative of what the music hype-machine has done to the band. There is an inherent sadness to a number of the songs that we haven’t seen from this band before. Much like the first album 'II' by no means breaks the mould but it does show a great deal of progress from a band who had bags of potential and who have matured their sound quietly, out from under the magazine cover microscope, the way that any other band would have been able to do 6 years ago. Perhaps a less reactionary response and a toned down interest is exactly what Viva Brother need, the new album proves that they still have the talent and some more original ideas, but this time they’ll have to work their way to the top the hard way. I for one, hope they get the opportunity. Board the bandwagon, find out what all of the fuss was, and might once again be, about.