Sound: Coming in to a scene full of arrogance is always bold, and following they're infamous remark in NME magazine earlier this year, "it's time for a proper band with some bollocks", so begins the build up, hype and extra pressure on whether the debut record will actually be any good. Hailing from Slough, England, Viva Brother crashed through the airwaves with the intention of reigniting the glory days of brit-pop, fusing a combination of the prolific bands from that era to create a sound not recognised at the centre of the mainstream eye for quite some years now.
In "Famous First Words" the band have put out a record certainly harking back to the euphoria of the British music scene in the mid 90's. With the early Blur-esque balance of reverberated arpeggios and overdriven guitars at the forefront, the band mix a quirky musical backdrop with a vocal sound youthful and undeniably full of swagger, taking us back to the sound of a 19 year old Liam Gallagher. Ultimately it isn't hard to draw such musical comparisons, however where the band excel is in the delivery of their melodies, extremely infectious throughout, and collectively as catchy a set of songs as your likely to hear for a while.
The first three singles, "Darling Buds Of May", "Still Here" and "New Year's Day" see the band probably at they're best on the record, firing on all cylinders melodically with excellent use of backing vocals and also putting in the best guitar work, from simple go effective garage riffs to infectious lead guitar runs. The record maintains a great pace throughout, the only two moments of slow down come in the form of attempted middle-of-the-record ballad "Electric Daydream" and riffy album closer "Time Machine", the band not quite getting out of second gear like they do elsewhere and leaning on slightly more well worn formula's with both tracks respectively. // 7
Lyrics: Lyrically the record is a frustrating listen. Bands like Blur and Oasis were not exactly rebound for they're storytelling, they had a penchant for finding a simple and effective common ground with everyday people and delivering that with a passion. With "Famous First Words" at very few points do you find the words resonating in anything like the same way, and with such great melodies and delivery throughout, it feels like an opportunity wasted. The general intrigue with what feels like in the most part just random sentences being swept together may well be argued as "the point" and within certain sections it comes across well enough, but a tighter balance between the cryptic and the direct may well have improved the records shaping overall. Giving an insight into what is covered is hard to pinpoint, the most consistent theme seems to be very much about keeping in touch with reality no matter how the circumstances may alter in everyday situations, "Still Here" probably connecting the best emotionally with it being centered around relationships. // 4
Overall Impression: You could go back and forth all day on the freshness of sound and lyrical intentions with a release like this but ultimately "Famous First Words" is for the vast majority of it's listen a really upbeat record, loaded with anthems and huge sing-a-long melodies. The band know what they want to do and do it very well. If you miss the scene of two decades ago and want to hop back there then this would certainly assist you with that. A couple more variated twists here and there musically and a bit more purpose in the lyrics would carry the record out of solid, and more towards gold. // 7