Viva Brother

Famous First Words

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Forced to change their name after being threatened with legal action by an Australian Celtic trio, savaged by the music press following their self-aggrandizing "saviors of rock & roll" claims, and recently outed as a former emo band named Kill the Arcade, it's fair to say that Slough "grit pop" four-piece Viva Brother's attempt at world domination hasn't gone as smoothly as they'd perhaps hoped. Indeed, it's difficult to think of another band who've had to face such hostility before even releasing a record, but it's equally difficult to elicit any sympathy once their debut album, Famous First Words, reveals just how wide of the mark their Gallagher-esque boasts were. Perhaps encouraged by the positive responses to recent live reunions by Blur, Suede, and Pulp, its ten tracks attempt to muscle in on the nostalgia surrounding the '90s Cool Britannia era. But despite the presence of one of Brit-pop's finest producers, Stephen Street, the majority of the album echoes the landfill indie of also-rans Northern Uproar, Menswear and, at times, tribute act No Way Sis, rather than the guitar band heavyweights they so obviously idolize, particularly on the gobby laddishness of "High Street Low Lives," the workmanlike singalong of "Darling Buds of May," and the plodding pub rock of "Still Here." Of course, it was always inevitable that a generation that grew up on Oasis would spawn a few copycat bands, but for some reason, it's the bloated mess of Be Here Now, rather than the Mancunians' seminal first two efforts, which appears to have been the blueprint here, as evident by the constant stream of stodgy riffs, the "Liam on autopilot" vocals of frontman Lee Newell, and the cliched lyrics which either descend into pseudo-mystical mumbo jumbo ("Electric daydream/look what you've done") or banal nonsense ("It takes a moron to know one/and he knows me"). Famous First Words was always going to struggle to live up to the band's bold promises, but it's still a shock at how a Brit-pop scene renowned for its color can be responsible for something so utterly drab.

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