Valentine’s weekend this year. I was on my way home from British seaside town Scarborough, where Backseat Mafia had just finished a triumphant weekend hosting a stage at the town’s Coastival festival; a fantastic weekend for live music. Or so I thought. It was then that I heard the sad news that Cheshire born indie band Viola Beach had been involved in a car accident on a bridge whilst returning home from ‘Where’s The Music?’ festival in Stockholm. All four members of the band and their manager were killed. The band had started getting more and more media attention, including from BBC Introducing. Their single ‘Swings and Waterslides’ had started getting some radio play, and it seemed like everything was on the up for the promising young four piece. Sadly they were never to reach their full potential, and see the release of their debut self-titled album, which is released at the end of July on their own label Fuller Beans; no doubt with a little help from their friends and family, who would have wanted to see the boys’ talent shown to the world.
The album is just nine tracks long, and is bookended between their two singles, ‘Swings & Waterslides’ and ‘Boy That Sings’. Both of the songs charted after the accident after a public campaign to boost sales; surely a sign of their loyal and growing fan base. It seems such a shame that something like that had to happen before they made it into the charts. But both were chart-worthy tracks, and I have no doubt they would have made it there eventually.
Maybe the album would have been a very different affair had they been there to oversea its release. But what we are left with is a well-produced and very fitting tribute to a band whose career could have otherwise have gone on to bigger and better things. It would been a pity had the album been less complete, and like so many artists who have their work released after their death, put together for the sake of making money. That is in no way how this collection of songs comes across. Each of the songs deserves its place on the album, and nothing feels like it has been put in to fill space. They obviously had a lot of ideas, and were producing fresh sounding guitar music. The album is an uplifting, bouncy record. It has a classic indie sound, falling somewhere between The Kooks, The View, and even Foals at some points. All worthy influences, but never does it sound copycat. It is more the sound of four guys having fun, and making music they love.
‘Boy That Sings’ takes top ranking. Lyrically it is quirky and fun, and uses simple rhymes to create something really clever. With the words ‘and she told me that she loves a boy who knows how to sing, so I learnt how to sing,’ I like to think that it could all be a clever plot to impress a girl. And what better reason to be in a band? However I’m not sure how the girl in question would respond to being referred to as ‘a rhino’. The opposite side to the boys in on ‘Drunk’ and ‘Call Me Up’ , in which they show a more emotional side; something they do just as well.
No doubt all our hearts go out to the friends and family of Viola Beach. What happened was a terrible tragedy. But as a music writer it’s my job to make an honest review of the album they made. And it really does stand on it’s own two feet. The self-titled album sounds great as a complete piece, and something they should be remembered highly for. At last check it was heading for the number one spot on the album charts. Despite the publicity it has inevitably attracted due to the circumstances, it’s the music that will keep people listening to it over and over again.
Viola beach were Kris Leonard, Jack Dakin, River Reeves, and Tomas Lowe.
For more information on Viola Beach, check out their social media: