Monday, 28 October 2013

Los Campesinos! - No Blues

They’ve changed their line-up multiple times and still headlined Shepherd’s Bush Empire and played festivals across the world. They’ve skirted with fame whilst existing exclusively outside of the top 40 and they’ve hidden from success whilst providing the soundtrack to not only a huge Budweiser commercial, but also the soundtracks to literally thousands of (mostly teenage) noughties’ lives.

So as Los Campesinos!’ fifth record No Blues fades in with For Flotsam then, its easy to think that this is it; maybe this is the moment that the occasionally crude but rarely cheap wordplay of Gareth Campesinos! mixed with the increasingly rich and full sound of the rest of the band, finally gets that break their output deserves. In just the opening track, depression, love, football, politics and maritime wreckage are all taken on and passed upon with ease before the natural lead single of the record What DeathLeaves Behind trounces through with the kind of definitive ‘recent’ LC! sound.

That sound however, has changed over time. It’s difficult to hear the band that created the chaos that ensued in parts of Hold On Now, Youngster in the refined build-up of Cemetery Gaits nor As Lucerne/The Low; although the slight touch of heartbroken pretence “There is no blues that can sound quite as heartfelt as mine” still remains.
Of course, when you mix this with the tongue-in-cheek footballing references of “Ex boyfriend, give us a song; ex boyfriend, boyfriend give us a song” in the album’s centrepiece Glue Me, and the name check of LC!’s repeated Doe Eyes in Avocado Baby, means that you remember the band they’ve been as well as the formidable force they’re becoming.

Gone is the filler that the predecessor to No Blues’ sound, Hello Sadness displayed in its second half (although, Let it Spill and the disappointingly un-M83 The Time Before The Last Time leave you somewhat bored before Selling Rope does little to appease). Gone is the identity crisis that made parts of Romance Is Boring feeling somewhat sonically schizophrenic, and gone is the somewhat juvenile charm that led the first years of their not-twee days.

It’ll hardly be their finest hour, if only because in individual tracks they’ve had multiple standout moments, but in terms of standing up on their many feet and declaring themselves a band to be reckoned with, Los Campesinos!’ No Blues exactly what it needs to be; them.


Braden Fletcher

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