Viva Brother – ‘Famous First Words’

Music journalist Dean Woodhouse is the newest contributor to This Town is Folly.  Piping out his own brand of observational witticisms, Dean will be unleashing his on-point album reviews upon TTIF readers…

Viva Brother’s debut ‘Famous First Words’ aren’t as famous as first thought.

What can I say about Viva Brother? A lot has been talked about of the Slough four-piece. They were signed to Geffen Records on the back of only a handful of performances in shoddy clubs and bars and since changing their name from Brother to Viva Brother, due to a lawsuit against the actual Brother, they have somewhat gone astray. Boasting their brand of Britpop they call “Gritpop” (deeper than most Britpop bands apparently), they first came on to the music scene with the very catchy ‘Darling Buds Of May’ late last year.  With high hopes and expectations on their heads, the call was that they might be the new Oasis. However, when anticipating a ‘Definitely Maybe’ record, we have instead received a ‘Be Here Now’ type of disappointment.

Working with former Blur and The Smiths producer Stephen Street on their debut outing may have steered them in the right direction to gaining some sing-along cred and well produced tracks, but unfortunately it’s nothing that will set the world alight. Other singles ‘Still Here’ and ‘New Year’s Day’ don’t quite seem to hit the mark, and to be honest are a little outdated. The typically overdone “oos” and “ahs” have been picked up and passed around more times in this album than Chlamydia within a clinic.

Something, besides the music of Viva Brother, that might put you off is their name. Although they had to change it under the circumstances, surely they could have thought of a better name than Viva Brother?! It doesn’t make any sense! Maybe Brother’s in Arms, Brotherly Love or Brother to Another would have been more acceptable (I’m just brain storming, don’t judge!)

Perhaps the unfortunate sequence of events preceding their album, has been the downfall of the debut release from Viva Brother and, ultimately, of their brand of “Gritpop”?

The highlights are few and far between, with ‘Electric Daydream’ and the three singles giving the four-piece some clarity in the direction they could be going in. Even though the record is just shy off 35 minutes long, it does tend to drag a bit, to the point where you are skipping the tracks to the first few again.

With a few festival dates at the Reading and Leeds festivals later this month, the thing that could save them is their live persona. Most bands are so exciting to watch that you crave their next tour dates to be released. I have witnessed some performances from Viva Brother have seen audience member’s hairs on the back of their heads stand up. Perhaps all is not lost from this young outfit yet.

For ‘Famous First Words’, I am sad to give them 5 stars out of 10.

Author:  Dean Woodhouse


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