I’ve been looking forward to Los Campesinos!’s fifth album NO BLUES for absolutely ages. The same will be true for a lot of 20-somethings, for whom LC! have been a bit of a soundtrack band since they first emerged as party-rockers when we were teenagers in around 2006/7. They’ve evolved since then, bulked up their lyrics with much more substance and become a tad gloomy; whilst the music itself has always remained generous and gloopy.
What Los Campesinos! do well is density. Bang in the middle of ‘Glue Me’, for example, Gareth sings “I’ll be gloomy til they glue me to the arms of she who loves me/Til the rats and worms a’rollin, turn the leaves five feet above me” as drums and synths (and god knows what else) storm away behind him. Image, build, internal rhyme. How are we supposed to take it all in at once?
GK Chesterton famously said of Charles Dickens that he “tended sometimes to pile up the cushions until none of his characters could move”. LC! have a similar opulence. What Chesterton omits though is that a room full of cushions sounds like great fun, not least because it invites either a blanket fort or a fight.
It all means, of course, that NO BLUES is a great re-listener. I mean over and over, always hearing new bits you missed the first thirty times. If you’re a fan of any vintage of LC! you’re likely to be quite pleased with it: the lyrics still buzz around the futility of existence and inevitability of death – “we all know we’re gonna die/we’re a speck of dust in a bad god’s eye”, as Gareth sings on the exquisitely titled ‘A Portrait Of The Trequartista As A Young Man’. But they’ve restored a bit of that chunkier pop sensibility they had in the early years. And there are some surprises too.
I hope there are some new teenagers listening to LC! They’re a good teenage band; a good bedroom band. And NO BLUES is a good album through which to discover them. Those of us who already have will be lining up for our fifth triptych of sex, death and football.
Words: Tom Moyser