no-cover

Los Campesinos! – [Album]

Like
588
0
Monday, 07 November 2011

When Los Campesinos first appeared on the pop radar with the Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP four years ago, indie rock fans of all stripes got excited. Here was a band who was having fun, but Campesinos weren't just some sort of contrived corporate machination; their music was rooted in underground values, but had pristine pop hooks – and both got flaunted proudly with equal measure. Things got even better as a succession of releases (Hold On Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed) upheld the innocence of that first release and proved that the group wasn't just another band of opportunistic scenesters and, when they did grow up in one fell swoop with Romance Is Boring, they lost no fans because the growth on that album felt like a natural progression. In that moment, Los Campesinos became stars.

Everything was going perfectly – so of course something had to happen which would cast Los Campesinos' future into question. In August, 2011, it was announced that Campesinos' violinist, Harriet, would be leaving the group to resume her studies at school. The reception of the announcement was uncertain; Los Campesinos' had seen membership changes before (keyboardist Aleksandra had left and been replaced, as had drummer Ollie), but somehow this seemed more significant. Both critics and fans began to wonder what was to become of Los Campesinos.

Just seconds into Hello Sadness – the band's fourth LP and first without Harriet – fans will realize they needn't have worried about the status of the band following their turnover tribulations.

Now a little more wary and a little more petulant, Los Campesinos thunders back into action on Hello Sadness with “By Your Hand” and the results are spectacular. In spite of the uncertainty surrounding them, the band appears more assured right away, and relies less on nervous energy as they set up a dense wall of sound which leans more toward a nature, rock side of the spectrum and is more focused than any of the band's previous work. This change will have fans who have been with the band for a while interested, but everyone who hears it will hooked from the moment singer Gareth Campesinos utters the words “I was sitting on my hands/ on the top deck of the 1-7-8/ spitting curses in my face reflected in the windscreen pane/ Throwing insults, calling names – filthy are the messages you send through the day” before going on to tell a girl he loves her. That might sound confusing but, really, the excitement can be found less in what the singer is saying and more in how he's saying it; now four years and a tremendous amount of positive press into his career, Gareth is clearly confident enough to stand up in front of the band without leaning on another singer for support. For the first time, Gareth is allowing himself to be viewed as the center of attention in the band. This new focus actually works to the group's advantage because it allows the rest of the band to really start concentrating on their own instrumental parts; for the first time here, Ellen, Kim, Tom, Neil, Rob and Jason Campesinos get more adventurous in their performances and beef up the sound with a more “articulated accompaniment” bent over an “indie cacophony” one. The combination of those two sides is fantastic and riveting; when Gareth hurdles over the band to broadcast the words “I'm not sure if it's love anymore,” the effect feels like an epiphany because it seems like the band grew up and really came into their own in that moment and they wear it really, really well.

After “By Your Hand,” the thrills only get bigger as the record continues. In “Songs About Your Girlfriend” and the album's title track, Gareth adopts a vocal tone and demeanor similar to that of Robert Smith as he begins regularly telling people off (scan the “If you want a list of all the favorite bits, then next time I am free – quite comprehensively – I will scroll them all down for you as an apology” line from “Songs About Your Girlfriend” and the “It's only hope that springs eternal, and it's the reason why this dripping from my broken heart is never running dry” line from the title track) and apologizing at the same time in a tone which is as dismissive and sure as it is wounded and sweet. That tone and emotional delivery never really breaks at any point here but, by the time the band reaches “To Tundra,” they do slow down to let some genuine catharsis free before breaking down completely to close the record with “Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. II.” In that end, Gareth's voice veers pretty close to a begrudging apology, but the lyrics read like a genuine one as well as a reflection on past bad acts.

Without meaning to sound trite, what Hello Sadness represents for Los Campesinos is huge. Here, the singer manages to come off as appearing crestfallen and/or angry, but the band doesn't rush in to hide or diffuse it; they hang back to accentuate it and, in so doing, give listeners a look at the other side of the thematic coin they've been playing with for the last four years. It's a brave and dramatic shift, but could be seen as a necessary one too; after everything the band has done and been through over the last few years, Los Campesinos needed to show some depth, and Hello Sadness does that marvelously.

Artist:

www.loscampesinos.com/
www.loscampesinos.com/blog/
www.myspace.com/loscampesinos
www.facebook.com/loscampesinos
www.twitter.com/loscampesinos

Download:

Los Campesinos! –
"By Your Hand" – Hello Sadness

Album:

Hello Sadness
comes out on November 15, 2011 via Arts & Crafts. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

no-cover

Los Campesinos! – [Album]

Like
0
0
Sunday, 17 January 2010

If you've ever been the monitor at a daycare center, you know that children are the closest things in creation to genuine perpetual motion machines. As they play, they have this awesome ability to move so quickly, excitedly and constantly but, if you watch, there will always be that one kid in the pack that stops, steps back, and watches the torrent of activity swirling around them as if from the eye of a hurricane. That image comes to mind as Los Campesinos' new long-player fades in; for the last twenty-nine months, the band hasn't broken stride as they've toured and recorded their brand of high-energy indie rock at a near-constant rate and, in the uncharacteristically methodical lead-in of “In Medias Res,” anyone listening can almost see the band pausing to survey the damage they've done and the excitement they've generated.

That isn't to say that Los Campesinos! have slowed down (after that intro, the driving rhythm of “In Medias Res” removes that argument from the table), but they have most definitely tidied up and streamlined their attack on Romance is Boring.

Where it was easy for listeners to be swept up in Los Campesinos' fervor on Hold On Now, Youngster and the Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP (listeners were invited to come misbehave with the band and the idea looked like so much fun that it was easy to accept), here they'll find sets of positively anthemic and brilliantly nihilistic lyrics (look at the sheets for the title track or “Straight In At 101” – they're raucous enough to start a riot) that are impossible to miss because no sound crowds singer Gareth Campesinos in the foreground (singer/multi-instrumentalist Aleks Campesinos elected to leave the band and return to school, and replacement Kim Campesinos – while an equally able singer and performer, hasn't started to jump double dutch with the instruments as Aleks did) which means these songs are allowed to be a little more rockist and huge-sounding, while lyricist Tom Campesinos has inspired moments of wordplay that will stick irremovably in the minds of those that hear them. Part of that 'great big rock n' roll band' sound can be attributed to producer John Goodmanson (who previously worked with Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Blonde Redhead – among others), who adds just the right amount of bombast and teaches the band that, in rock, sometimes the greatest impact a song can make is with the notes not played and the spaces left to breathe.

With that strength on the mixing desk, what comes forth is unquestionably the strongest, most hook- and proverb-heavy set released to date by Los Campesinos! All of the ideas that the band had been toying with prior to this point (the classic, garage-y indie rock, the smart-assed but genius repartee) come together on Romance Is Boring but, even better, they're presented with perfect clarity for listeners to eat up. And they will.

Where Romance Is Boring plays out is precisely where the band has been headed since 2007 but each step prior to this point was necessary in order to make Romance Is Boring possible which makes the album all the more salubrious. This album carries some of each previous success that Los Campesinos! has enjoyed in it, but that it all comes together here as it does here is the greatest charm for fans. After that brief step back early in the run-time of Romance Is Boring, the band steps back up and takes what's theirs – it's beautiful.

Artist:

loscampesinos.com/

www.myspace.com/loscampesinos

Download:

Los Campesinos! – “There Are Listed Buildings” – Romance IsBoring


Further Reading:

Ground Control's review of Sticking Fingers Into Sockets by Los Campesinos!

Ground Control's review of Hold On Now, Youngster by Los Campesinos!

Ground Control's review of We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed by Los Campesinos!

Album:

Romance Is Boring
comes out on January 26, 2010 on Arts & Crafts records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.