Truly great things are hard to come by: successful shopping trips; a decent pint of Guinness; fit girls that like Radiohead; the list goes on. But before I digress spectacularly in the first paragraph, let me qualify myself by saying that to this list could be added ‘new bands that are arse-spankingly fantastic’. All the more reason to embrace Los Campesinos!, for that is precisely what they are.
Los Campesinos! (translates as farmers, or peasants, or something) are a seven-piece formed at Cardiff University. Their debut album is a riotous cacophony of perfectly sculpted indie boisterousness. Los Campesinos! leap from the speakers, slap you hard in the face, smile, and invite you to join their party
From the first to the last, Hold On Now, Youngster fizzes with energy. The itchy guitar riffs, and breackneck rhythms of opener, Death To Los Campesinos! are a call to arms for those tired of style-over-substance indie fakers who’d snap if they played their guitar too hard.
With expansive diversity in instrumentation and melody, Hold On Now, Youngster sees spiky guitars booted up the arse by zinging glockenspiels, a pounding, driving rhythm section, lightly peppered with synths diving in and out of the mix. Add to this some heart-stopping string arrangement akin to DeVotchka or Arcade Fire and that pretty much provides the backdrop for the shouty, boy/girl, tag-team, sugar-high vocals to complete what is quite simply addictive indie madness.
The lyrical, literate, witty, and engaging musings of Gareth Campesinos! are thrilling in themselves, guiding the listener through the barrage of noise that defines the louder points of this album with original, and very cool subject matter and charismatic melodies as the rest of his band bark his lyrics back at him. Subtle? No. Unpretentious? Yes.
To single out highlights of this album is difficult. I genuinely haven’t been so impressed, or lost for words with a debut album for a long time, possibly ever. But there are moments of utter brilliance on this album that deserve mention. The breakdown, and time-signature flip of And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison with its euphoric strings and goosebump-enducing vocal onslaught, the perfectly crafted uber-pop of My Year In Lists, the unrelenting energy of Death To Los Campesinos!, it’s all rather brilliant.
Previous double A-side Don’t Tell Me To Do The Math(s) doesn’t really stand up on the album, and is easily skipped, with its dodgy chorus where the vocals are pretty much all over the place – a questionable inclusion to a collection of brilliant songs.
But that detracts nothing from the album. This band are important, and have reinvigorated an increasingly stale indie music scene single-handedly. Los Campesinos! sound like a band who are bursting to make as much noise as possible. That creativity and melodic brilliance bursts out of them makes that ambition an exhilarating experience.