Imagine that Belle & Sebastian and Tilly & the Wall got together and one thing led to another, which led to septuplets; and imagine that those children grew up with no friends, only a Sugarcubes record and a glockenspiel. If you can get past the absurdly crowded delivery room, you may begin to have some idea what to expect from Los Campesinos!(MySpace) debut LP Hold On Now, Youngster. And, really, there is no way this should work. But somehow it does.
Perhaps a few examples are in order. First: glockenspiels have never been rock ‘n’ roll (though, now that Envy & Other Sins have apparently included one in their upcoming album, I may have to rethink that). For that matter, neither has the melodica. Apparently, no one told Los Campesinos! this, because even when doubling the lead guitar on tracks like the frantic opener “Death To Los Campesinos!”, the thing manages to hold its own. Second: 43 minutes of lyrics like “This is how you spell ‘HAHAHA, we destroyed the hopes and dreams of a generation of faux-romantics.’ And I’m pleased” (and yes, that is also the title of the song) should not leave me with a ridiculous smile on my face. It is a juxtaposition of cheery pop (sort of) and cynicism worthy of the best of the early Cardigans.
And thought Gareth’s lyrics can be a bit, shall we say, abstract, e.g. “If you catch me with my hands in the till/I promise you that I wasn’t trying to steal/I’m just swimming in copper to smell and pretend like a robot.” (from “Death To Los Campesinos!”), they read more like Charles Bukowski with an attention span than what passes for lyrics among the more radio-friendly set these days. Add to that a lead guitarist whose repertoire extends beyond the realm of power chords and the result is really is something special—a nice change from much of the new stuff I’ve been encountering lately. Yes, two tracks did appear on the EP Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (“Don’t Tell Me To Do the Math(s)” and “You! Me! Dancing!”), a good 30 seconds have been added to the latter and the other nine songs (ok, 10 counting the bonus track) are well worth the investment.
- “Death to Los Campesinos!” – 2:52
- “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats” – 3:35
- “Don’t Tell Me to Do the Math(s)” – 3:22
- “Drop it Doe Eyes” – 2:44
- “My Year In Lists” – 1:51
- “Knee Deep at ATP” – 2:49
- “This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics”” – 4:20
- “We Are All Accelerated Readers” – 2:54
- “You! Me! Dancing!” – 6:48
- “…And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes in Unison” – 2:50
- “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks” – 4:31
- “2007: The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)” [unlisted bonus track] – 4:44