This cracking debut album is as utterly heartbreaking as it is brilliant, released with the blessings of their families five months after VIOLA BEACH and their manager died in a tragic car accident.
It serves as a difficult reminder of what the four lads from Warrington had to offer the world – the promise captured in these nine dizzying indie-pop hits filled with young romance and care-free disposition, a lasting reminder of the unadulterated joys of music.
The band’s endearing optimism – perfectly channeled through singer Kris’s spirited vocal delivery – makes this posthumous release so poignant. I found myself close to tears on multiple listens – the summer time longing on opener Swings And Waterslides is now achingly somber, and the fizzy sanguinity of Cherry Vimto is now bittersweet.
The tragedy in Sweden back in February may shed a different light on these songs, but it’s impossible not to imagine a crowd going absolutely ape-shit to these driving, danceable indie-pop anthems at a sun-drenched festival or a sweaty club show.
The energy surging through these songs is so palpable – the staccato beat of Like A Fool, the rolling calypso-pop vibes of Really Wanna Call and the glorious sing-along stomp of Boys That Sing (now this is a festival anthem thanks to Coldplay’s touching tribute as they headlined Glastonbury last month).
The colourful melodies crafted in each vibrant tune reach from the rain-soaked streets of Warrington to the sun-kissed sands of Africa as gritty indie meets tropical cool.
These nine songs merely serve as a taste of what the wide-eyed four-piece could achieve – a collection of excitable promise rather than a polished, accomplished debut.
It’s clear Viola Beach set out to make people dance, wearing their hearts firmly on their sleeves and strike connections through small-town tales of youthful abandon – and they achieve this so effortlessly.
It’s tough to listen to this album without pangs of sadness creeping through the shimmering joy of its candescence, but this lasting legacy is one of inspiration and admiration.