Furthermore 'Famous Last Words' lacks the attitude and the energy that you would expect from a group who have hyped themselves up as much as Viva Brother have. However some of these songs still have a charm and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a band using Britpop as their main inspiration. Mind you the sound often has a lot more in common with some of the post-Britpop bands of the late 1990's (most notably Straw and sometimes Gay Dad) who attempted to brighten things up as many of the bigger bands were getting darker. Elsewhere Viva Brother's music bears far more of a resemblance to Menswear and Northern Uproar rather than the bigger Britpop acts, although the guitar solos do often recall Oasis at their peak and they do sometimes sound a bit like them when the singer shuts his mouth. The "oh-wah-oh"s on definite highlight 'New Year's Day' and the verses of 'Darling Buds Of May' serve as reminders of 'Great Escape'-era Blur. 'Still Here' is very much like Sleeper would've been like without a female vocalist, but with a chorus sung by a Liam wannabe. Quite often the singer sounds like he's doing an impression of the guy who used to sing in tribute band No Way Sis. There are many differences between Viva Brother and Oasis: the musical swagger is absent as are the instantly memorable anthemic choruses, in fact the only simularities are the very basic chords and the occasional rattle of a tambourine. Another highlight is 'Fly By Nights' which again has a very Sleeper-esque melody, but combined with more "la la la"s that could've been from Blur circa 1995. 'High Street Low Life' is a half successful attempt at aping Supergrass, while 'Electric Daydream' has the air of a Hurricane #1 B-side and 'Otherside' is like The Bluetones being urged by their record label to sound more like Oasis. Elsewhere Mansun provide the inspiration for 'David' as they also do on 'False Alarm' which also opens with a blantantly nicked riff from 'Shakermaker', has an utterly shit chorus but an enjoyable ending. It is great that this band are nostaligic about the glory days of Britpop but when they try too hard to re-create the sound it can sound like a very pale imitation at times.
The fact that even a huge Britpop nostalgist like myself can't enjoy most of this record does highlight its weaknesses. As someone who dreams about a Britpop revival, I should've really liked this album but it's just a tad too contrived at times. While these songs have the authentic Stephen Street production the songs themselves lack the vintage qualities and as a result this album fails to recreate the vibrant spirit of the mid 90's, instead sounding like a comical parody at times.
It's a shame because the album starts off so brightly and undoubtedly there is the odd good tune here and there, a couple in particular being very catchy. However none of them come anywhere near to being "the best songs of the last 20 years" and it's this approach of arrogance and big boasts that makes this album all the more underwhelming. If the group took a more subtle publicity style, stopped trying so hard, and toned down the desperate need for every song to sound like it could've been on a 'Shine' compilation, then perhaps next time they might produce something that sounds more natural, less derivative, more original and a lot less underwhelming. 6