Los Campesinos!: NO BLUES
Similar Artists: The Wrens, The Smiths, Yuck
Genre: Indie Rock, What teenagers should be listening to
Has it really only been 5 years since Los Campesinos! unleashed their debut, Hold On Now, Youngster, unto the world? I was initially shocked when I realized this truth, as I had remembered them as an integral part of the indie rock canon throughout the 2000’s. It feels like we’ve had their debut — along with its sequel, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed — for a lifetime already, and I feel it’s because at the time of their arrival, Los Campesinos! fit into the already crowded scene of indie rock so comfortably. They nailed that 50% wackiness/50% seriousness model down right from the get-go, and it made them easy to love. They were an impressive band not because of any outrageous technical prowess or modernity, but because of their immediacy, their youthfulness, and most of all, their hyperactivity.
Within the time since their first two records, Los Campesinos! have somewhat moved away from their frenetic ADHD sound in favor of some (slightly) more mature and grounded songwriting. The results have been largely positive, although not overwhelmingly so, as their previous two LPs, Romance Is Boring and Hello Sadness both saw little change to their established formula. Even now, they’re arguably still at their best when they’re jumping off the walls, but this new release finds them at a new high point, and ends up being their tightest and most anthemic release to date. It feels like they’re finally at the destination they’ve been reaching for on their last few releases, and there is a noticeable peacefulness surrounding their aura because of it.
In terms of lyrics, NO BLUES sees Los Campesinos! at their usual state of anxious and depressed. This is a world where characters curse their exes to a life of celibacy and feel as though the world is constantly crushing down on them. These stories are told through Gareth’s consistently clever wordplay, in which he treats us with puns, witty sarcasm, and more obscure sports references than you can handle. However, as the title suggests, this album is about facing up to these daily struggles instead of committing suicide over them. In these respects, Los Campesinos! have moved from being the quintessential teenage band to the quintessential young adult band. Case in point being the hilarious and sprawling “Avocado, Baby”, in which Gareth describes himself as having a /heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, that’s why they call me the avocado, baby/. The remaining vocalists back this chorus in a cheerleader-like chant; one of the few moments on the album that could be called downright outrageous. Besides that one (necessary) freakout though, the majority of the songwriting is fluid, well paced, and within its proper context.
Don’t get me wrong, Los Campesinos! aren’t going as far as using restraint on these songs, but they have implemented a directness to them that sets them apart from their earliest material. Thankfully, these 10 tracks are a fresh, attention worthy batch for a band that used to be known for untamed sporadicness. Most of all though, NO BLUES succeeds because it’s just plain fun. All 10 songs are catchy as hell and you’ll be bound to wake up with one of the more memorable choruses happily repeating in your head. There are not many records that I enjoy that I could describe using a term as simple as indie rock, but on NO BLUES, Los Campesinos! have played it safe, stuck to their strong points, and came out with one of the most enjoyable records of their career.
1.) For Flotsam*
2.) What Death Leaves Behind
3.) A Portrait Of The Trequartista As A Young Man
4.) Cemetary Gaits*
5.) Glue Me*
6.) As Lucerne/The Low
7.) Avocado, Baby*
8.) Let It Spill
9.) The Time Before The Last
10.) Selling Rope (Swan Dive To Estuary)*
Album Highlight – *