Los Campesinos! – No Blues

lcRating: ★★½☆☆

Though the high-energy twee pop of Los Campesinos! may not be the perfect companion for any mood or time period, their bright music seems to shine brighter than anything else when I am in the mood for melodically sunny tunes. However, on their last record, Hello Sadness, we got a glimpse of a darker side of this band that formed a few years back in Cardiff. Will they bring the darkness back on this release, or does the title signify a return of only sunny days?

As per usual, with this band, I find myself falling in love with a few tracks from this album and leaving the rest behind. This time around, at first, opener “Flotsam,” feels like one of those to keep, with its small intro of just lead singer Gareth David to its big ending and overall more grounded sound, but there is also a reserved quality that doesn’t immediately grab you completely. It’s not until track six that I really get a strong wave of interest in the music. On “As Lucerne/The Low,” I’m immediately pulled in by David’s powerhouse vocals belting out at the top of his lungs: “There is no blues that could sound quite as heartfelt as mine—” a very angst filled, youthful sentiment. The spastic drums and general cramped nature of all the instruments fighting for your attention all combine to create a high energy and glittering tune.   And on the next track “Avocado, Baby,” you are brought back to the sound of this band that you encountered on their debut record. Group vocals and chants of seemingly nonsensical, but actually quite witty lyrics are at the center, and I’ll be damned if I’m not tempted to sing right alongside them.

There is a bit of a return to gravity on No Blues, but this time it is in the form of more grounded tunes that fit less into the genre of twee and more of straight laced indie-pop. Save for the two songs I mentioned and some other mildly interesting tracks, there isn’t too much new or exciting on the record that we haven’t already heard from this group already. This is the reason by No Blues ultimately falls a little on the weak side is because Los Campesinos!  have been doing the same thing, making the youthful energy feel less fresh. That’s not to say the energy isn’t high or that I didn’t enjoy No Blues, but I definitely picked out my favorites pretty fast.

One comment

  • I feel you’re missing something with this album. I will always love the hyperactive indie-pop of “Hold on Now, Youngster…” (it’s truly one of my all time favorite albums), but since “Romance is Boring” (since “We are Beautiful, We are Doomed” really) the band has been expanding their sound, doing things like “In Media Res” and “The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future”. You can really hear it on “Hello Sadness” with the likes of “Every Defeat a Divorce”, “To Tundra”, or “Baby I Got the Death Rattle” being vital tracks within the album. So of course they choose the peppiest tracks with “What Death Leaves Behind” or “Avocado, Baby”, as the first singles (which are excellent and show how they can do their energetic sound in new ways). However, they push deeper into that more expansive sound, with the likes of “Cemetery Gaits” or “Glue Me” really pack an emotional wallop within them in ways the band hasn’t done before. I would say give the album another listen, especially something as excellent as “Selling Rope” and see what’s buried beneath.

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