ALBUM: Viva Brother – Famous First Words

Release Date: August 1st, 2011
Label: Geffen


Harking back to the laid back 90’s brand of indie rock, Viva Brother not only share the sound of this bygone era but also the self-assured cockiness of its bands, as they claim rather confidently to have written “the best songs of the last 20 years”. Unfortunately, on the evidence of debut album ‘Famous First Words’, this proves to be entirely unfounded as the band slog through a number of rather uninteresting lad rock tunes.

Some of the songs themselves are inoffensive and pleasant enough to listen to, such as the largely mid tempo single ‘Darling Buds Of May’ with its charming chorus and jangley riff work, and ‘Still Here’ with its Oasis-esque structure. Yet therein lies the problem, as it quickly becomes apparent that Viva Brother remain little more than the sum of their influences.

Vocalist Leonard Newell fails to impress as his nasal whine lacks any bite or grit, and apart from the aforementioned examples his melodies prove to be unmemorable and dull, coming across as scraps from Blur‘s cutting room floor. The instrumentation is competant enough, as the guitar players deliver a wholly respectable series of hummable, nostalgia fuelled chord progressions, yet again it’s nothing more than disposable, and certainly doesn’t warrant repeated listens.

Although it must be remembered that ‘Famous First Words’ is the band’s debut release, and the band do (all too rarely) display some flash of musical prowess, Viva Brother have much ground to cover if they are going to get even within touching distance of the success their heroes achieved. A spark of originality and some bona fide great songs to support their tough talking is all that can save the band from being the over hyped dissapointment they remain to be. For an outift so obviously unafraid of making bold and controversial statements, it’s surprising how little power is contained in their music.

Written by Tony Bliss