It is hard to review an album such as this due to the circumstances in which it was released, but I have given it my best efforts. Back in February of this year, Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin, and their manager Craig Tarry, made headlines after passing away following a crash in Sweden on their way back from a music festival the previous day. Now a week after Viola Beach posthumously shot to number one in the UK Album Charts with their eponymous debut, it is pretty damn clear why their fans loved them as much they did, and still do to this day.
Throughout each track on their LP, the boys’ personalities burst through every note, every beat and every line, complete with a bit of sunshine and happy-go-lucky charm thrown in for good measure. It is a total shame that the boys will have only been discovered by so many adoring fans due to the tragic circumstances of their deaths, but I digress. This album is not to be remembered for that incident, but instead for the sheer talent they possessed and could have honed to really great heights.
Opener ‘Swings and Waterslides’, which eventually reached number #11 in the singles chart is the perfect start to this 9-track collection, the studio production sounding perfectly polished and radiating happiness and warmth – I dare you not to learn the lyrics within a few plays. Highlights in the form of ‘Go Outside’, wonderfully bassy ‘Drunk’ and ‘Really Wanna Call’ are all examples of the band’s ability to drum their way into your memory and into your heart through their music, and also truly demonstrate the young band’s capabilities as songwriters and musicians; essentially, they are all perfect to kick back and listen to during our topsy-turvy British summer time weather. The chanty chorus of ‘Like A Fool’ is absolutely infectious and the boyish charm of the BBC Live Lounge recording of ‘Get To Dancing’ is honestly so hard to resist. Closer ‘Boys That Sing’, one of the best songs they ever released, full of thrashing, anthemic guitars, is the perfect way to end our brief introduction to the band that they could, and so heartbreakingly should have been had they had the chance.
Coupling the entire album with Coldplay’s tribute cover of the latter track at Glastonbury this summer, Viola Beach have gained a place in the nation’s hearts and will be forever remembered as four bright young lads from Warrington who just wanted to sing and make music for everyone to enjoy.
Rest in peace boys, you were wonderful.