Release Date: Dec 8, 2014
Record label: Universal Music
Genre(s): Holiday, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Holidays
There should be a rule that all indie bands must do a Christmas record eventually. As a creative exercise it really sorts the wheat from chaff, and it’s more difficult than you’d think– try too hard and you’ll end up over-egging the nog (and yes, I'm unnecessarily proud of that phrase). The Manics made a right pig's of ear of it a few years ago by trying to be Wizzard; but on the other hand if you don’t make with the Christmas sparkle it becomes a bit pointless (exhibit B: Glasvegas’ miserable A Snowflake Fell And It Felt Like A Kiss.
"I’ll be anything you want of me," Gareth Campesinos! sings with conviction on "A Doe to a Deer", then offers, "an angel teetering atop a tree, vomiting from vertigo!" It's not a line you expect from a Christmas song—it’s not really a line you’d expect from any song about trying to win over a lover’s heart. But its silly Debbie Downer-tone bares some truth: Christmas is a holiday full of romantic promise, but it also has its sour side. This honesty comes courtesy of Los Campesinos!’s latest, a six-track EP of yuletide goodness (and sadness) that brings together three holiday singles the band has released over the past few years, along with two covers and a new track.
Nowadays, the one-off seasonal hit is a closed shop; indie bands after the kind of Christmas bonus Wizzard got in 1973 with ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ must be inventive. Comprising six tracks including reworked ’70s classics and carols, Los Campesinos!’ new seasonal EP certainly is. It takes a similar approach to Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Songs For Christmas’ EPs, particularly on an icicle folk version of ‘The Holly & The Ivy’.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The holiday album is possibly the most transparent of all music industry money-grabs. But harping on about the commercialization of Christmas isn't going to stop a handful of respectable artists from releasing sentimental songs of mistletoe and togetherness come December. This year's offenders? Los Campesinos with A Los Campesinos! Christmas.
There are some bands you'd invite to a holiday party; there are some you'd want to make sure their invites got lost in the mail so they wouldn't show up and wreck the cheer with desperate shows of misplaced emotion, wracked sobs over sloshing mugs of eggnog, and loads of weary sighs and shrugs. Los Campesinos! seem like they'd fall firmly into the latter category, but here they are crashing the affair with a Christmas-themed album, A Los Campesinos! Christmas. The question is what kind of guests do they turn out to be -- the answer is far less grinchy than expected.
The non-Michael Bublé world of Christmas music is saturated with indie rock courtesy of She & Him and Coldplay, so it's refreshing when the genre is approached with some tongue-in-cheek cynicism. Enter Los Campesinos!, whose penchant for glockenspiel and chiming bells has never been more appropriate. This festive album of mostly original songs has something for everyone: the recently heartbroken, the Grinch, the sarcastic teen, those who genuinely love the most saccharine Christmas carols.