Los Campesinos!’s new album is their best yet and could become one of your favourites of the year, writes Buster Stonham.
Los Campesinos! – No Blues
Trying to stand out from the crowd as a conventional indie band can be a tough job, with some bands resorting to gimmicks or manufactured controversy to make a name for themselves. Thankfully, it seems that Los Campesinos! are trying to do it the old fashioned way: with good quality song writing.
The six-piece formed at Cardiff university in 2006 and although they came a little late to the indie party, when electronic beats were starting to take over, they’ve made up for their lost time with five albums in as many years.
Their latest offering, No Blues, is the band’s most accomplished album to date. The album captures a new sense of maturity to add to their brand of jaunty indie tunes juxtaposed with Gareth David’s surprisingly dark subject matter.
David’s trademark lyrics, laced with his familiar misery, make their appearance immediately. Album opener ‘For Flotsam’ sees him moaning: “Flotsam, Jetsam and Spindrift: all the girls I have loved/dumped to earth by a spendthrift, gilt angels from above”, recalling the disappointment of teenage love. But the song itself is strangely uplifting and powerful, two themes which run throughout No Blues.
During the first few playbacks the album treats the listener to some dreamy melodies and stonking choruses that soon have you humming along. ‘What Death Leaves Behind’ and ‘Avacado, Baby,’ are particular highlights and ‘Cemetery Gaits’ gives a sizeable nod of recognition to The Smiths, which is never a bad thing.
But the real appeal of No Blues, and what gives it the potential of a lasting legacy, only becomes apparent after digging deeper. The range of emotions and deep personal insight present in Gareth’s lyrics give the album that intimate feel, like a friend sharing their darkest feelings with you. “I’ll be gloomy ’til they glue me in the arms of she who loves me/’til the rats and worms are all interned at least five feet above me” he sings on ‘Glue me’almost as a cry for help.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Esoteric lines like: “people laugh, they will call it folly/but we connected like a Yeboah volley,” on ‘Glue me’ will resonate with a certain generation of football fans, with a knowing nod to misspent youth. Furthermore, metaphors such as “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy/that’s why they call me the avocado, baby” on ‘Avacado, baby’ punctuate the album like the jokes in a well written sitcom; leaving a lasting smile when you finally get them.
No Blues is a peculiarly British album. Initially the fun and upbeat melodies are familiar, making out that everything is hunk dory before the undercurrent of misery and disappointment become apparent. But in the end there is the sense that everything will be alright with a joke and a sarcastic comment. It’s this unique personality that gives No Blues its charm, making it an album that could come to occupy a special place in your heart.