It’s perhaps testament to the rich creative vein of form Los Campesinos! find themselves in. Bolstered by a growing army of devoted fans and a barrage of successful gigs, they’re back – barely eight months since the release of the goosebump-donator of a debut, …Hold On Now, Youngster.
For those yet unfamiliar with Los Campesinos!, the Cardiff-based seven-piece’s cocktail of synths, violins and itchy guitars leap from the speakers to create indie jubilance, and near-perfect pop songs. No refined coyness here – these rascals are face-slappingly brazen.
Ways To Make It Through The Wall gets WAB, WAD out of the blocks with typical breakneck speed, with a tsunami of instruments, voices and melodies vying for position.
The opening plaudits however all belong to Miserabilia, which features beautiful, addictive guitar melodies, driven by an unrelenting, pounding synth line. The songs centrepiece is built around the most spine-tinglingly amazing violin outburst since before violins were even cool. Fact.
It’s a fact almost upended by the arrival of the title track, where piercing, scything, racing strings punctuate gritty guitars and glittering glockenspiels. And while we’re on the subject of violins, in a recent interview, Tom Campesinos! remarked “I think my favourite [song] is You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing because it’s got a great violin part” – he’s not wrong; it’s heart-warmingly beautiful.
Ok, awesome violins aside, what else of WAB, WAD? The feisty boy-girl interaction of Gareth and Aleks Campesinos! is still integral to the vocal side of LC!, but both singers have developed. Gareth especially sounds more weathered, with a greater depth and subtlety of expression. Lyrically his is more engaging, poetic and witty than ever, his wry observations of modern love, and modern life original, are massively engaging and inspiring.
Runaway hyperbole aside, WAB, WAD is not without its flaws. Despite sounding more like an album (as opposed to a collection of songs) in comparison to …Hold On Now, Youngster, some of the material just doesn’t hit the mark. The End Of The Asterisk features a chorus that is flat-out annoying, and It’s Never That Easy Though, Is It? (Song For The Other Kurt) features another annoying chorus and an irritating squelchy synth line.
Normal order is restored with the ice-cool, slower-tempo Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1. Other highlights such as Miserabilia, and the knockout pop of the title track, provide ample compensation for these minor blemishes.
Los Campesinos! are a band teeming with charisma and personality, their technicolor melodies like explosions in a starry sky. And at a time when so much indie music sounds so contrived and formulaic, Los Campesinos! continue to compose intelligent, well thought out songs, endearingly so, and eschew any trends other than those they’re setting for themselves.
The joyfully optimistic All Your Kayfabe friends concludes the album with such unexpected abruptness it’s the sonic equivalent of ending a piece of writing in the middle of a sen…