Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Record label: Wichita
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Los Campesinos! first gained notice in what seems like a different world, and as a result, hold varying significance depending on who you talk to, certainly more beloved in their native U.K. than here in the U.S. In 2008, when the band released their first and second LPs, indie was Drake-big, yet even in that climate, Los Campesinos! still struggled.
When Los Campesinos! arrived in full back in 2008 with their debut Hold On Now, Youngster, indie pop seemed to be reborn with it. An indie pop mk II, if you will. Accompanying the likes of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Veronica Falls, it seemed the early internet/music blog generation – those brought up on The Strokes in their mid-teens and then eventually yearning for something indier and more underground – had found their medium.
NO BLUES. It’s a bit of a wry in-joke for fans of Los Campesinos. Normally they specialise in a lot of blues – it’s just part of their makeup. Most of their songs are drowned in an absolute fuck-load of blues. It’s also an especially glib contrast to their last record, Hello Sadness.
Latest effort No Blues once again finds Los Campesinos! riding their hearts into battle, returning smarter and stronger, if a little bloodied. On a fifth LP of verbose anti-rap and lovelorn twee — their first since bassist/co-singer Ellen Waddell's departure — themes of romantic and mortal death advance amidst a profusion of calorific choruses ("Avocado, Baby," "What Death Leaves Behind") and cute soccer references ("we connected like a Yeboah volley"). Sometimes, given singer Gareth Paisey's mewling tone, their purple prose lends their harrowing fantasies an uncomfortable self-satisfaction: closer "Selling Rope (Swan Dive to Estuary)" indulgently chronicles a bridge jumper's last gasp as birds bearing witness from treetops dare to express indifference.
The transition between the optimistic C86 vibes of 2008’s debut album ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ and their more heartbroken fourth, 2011’s ‘Hello Sadness’, was remarkable. Follow-up ‘No Blues’ finds the band settling into a more consistent sound. Despite the positive title, singer Gareth Paisey is as lyrically downbeat as ever, but it’s the melodic swells that prevent everything becoming too suicidal.
Eight songs into No Blues, Gareth Campesinos! proudly states, “Béla Guttmann of love/ curse all of my exes to a life of celibacy.” No one else in rock, hip-hop, or any genre is making that kind of boast, and the most advanced Los Campesinos! fan will know exactly what Gareth means by it. A solid Los Campesinos! fan will suspect it’s a (non-American) football reference and have their assumptions confirmed after a quick Google search. A casual Los Campesinos! fan will only understand the second half of the line, as trying to invoke a supernatural hex on a former lover is a fairly common pastime in Gareth’s lyrics.
It’s pretty much a scientific fact that the best bands mix emotional resonance with a sense of humour; a raised eyebrow, a knowing wink and some self-deprecation among the pathos. It’s one of the reasons why The Smiths were so great. And it’s also why Los Campesinos! are a rare band to cherish.As if to prove the point, on ‘No Blues’, they even have a song called ‘Cemetery Gaits’.
There’s a bit in Kieron Gillen’s 2009 comic, Phonogram: The Singles Club, where lead character David Khol recommends the emerging Los Campesinos! 'They’re going to be big' he starts to say, then stops. 'Actually scratch that. They’re never going to be Big-big. But they’re going to be big to some people'.
Review Summary: No Blues will make you dance till you drop. And by drop, I mean die, but in a happy fun way!No Blues is an intoxicating album. Really, if music could get you hammered this would totally do the trick. Los Campesinos! blow up their sound, and the metric fuckton of vocal harmonies, guitar hooks and auxiliary instrumental flourishes will overwhelm your brain to the point where you can’t help but get lost.
Few British bands walk the indie walk as devotedly as Los Campesinos!. Since releasing their debut LP Hold On Now, Youngster... in 2008, the Cardiff-bred sextet have continued to roam the music industry's less resplendent echelons without feeling the need to compromise their direction of travel for commercial success (give or take appearing on a few actual commercials).
You get older. You graduate high school. You graduate college. You meet someone. You break up. Your sports team wins some games. They lose some others. You get older. You live alone for the first time. Then with someone for the first time. You rent an apartment. You rent a duplex. You rent a house ….
When Los Campesinos! burst onto the indie scene in the late 2000s, they were a rambunctious (more or less) half-male/half-female crew who madly ran through their songs like they were chasing rainbow-puking unicorns. The results, like the song "You! Me! Dancing!," or the album Hold on Now, Youngster..., were wild, unpredictable, and the best kind of indie pop. As time passed and more records hit the airwaves, the group's sound evened out as they grew and members came and went.
Ah, Los Campesinos!, the Rodney Dangerfield of indie rock. Can’t get no respect. The blame rests at the feet—or, okay, the cute little dot—of that exclamation point, an open-armed invitation to the leagues of bloggers who still slur the band by tagging them as “twee” after hearing the brazenly youthful sugar rush of the group’s debut record, Hold on Now, Youngster (2008).