“It’s fair to say that I chose hopelessness/And inflicted it on the rest of us/But at least I’ve come to terms with my own mortality.” If you feel a slight squirming in your stomach reading those lines, or experience an even more virulent gut reaction against them, you might as well stop reading now. Go on, make a cup of tea, and come back when I’m done. For Los Campesinos!, the Welsh septet of achingly cute and studiously shy boys and girls deign to open their second album (within just seven months of their first) with possibly the most alienating lines lyricist Gareth has penned to date. Camp Campesinos were not schooled in the Brechtian tradition, and are more primarily concerned with documenting their own drama. If you can’t stand listening to others’ suffering, then within WAB, WAD lies only suffering for you.
If however, you love a bit of soap opera, hipsterish reference points, tumultuous choruses, boy-girl vocals, morose wit, violent violin riffs, reading other people’s diaries, singing out of key to express emotional upheaval, or, quite simply, untacky pop then prospecting for gold in the WAB, WAD river will be a fruitful experience for you. After the disjointedness of debut album Hold On Now, Youngster the Campesinos have opted for a more coherent affair over the singles-collection thrills of …Youngster. The joyful musicality of the band has always played the foil to the soured vocals, a template which they only slightly update this time around. The album plays more like a sulky version of its predeccesor. For every You! Me! Dancing, there’s a Ways To Make It Through The Wall; as cathartic and explosive, but with a more meshed-in foreboding air.
Of all the accusations that have been hurled at this truly most Marmite of bands that of their indebtedness to their favourite bands’ sounds is the most accurate. On their debut the band played variously like a mini-Pavement, a Bis junior, or a Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia youth. Similarly this time around they could be deemed a derived version of Broken Social Scene (fittingly, since they now share labels) with their same twee tweaks as before. Regardless of the source of the product, some songs such as the cacophonous Miserabilia or the sweetly addictive You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing are so irresistable that Los Campesinos could get away with releasing an album every six months for the rest of eternity and still enjoy success.
Sounds like: Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia- Indian Ink [Jitter], Broken Social Scene- You Forgot It In People [Arts and Crafts], Your teenage brother’s diary [In a Converse box in his bedside locker].
Words by Daniel Gray