Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
Arts & Crafts
here was a debate on whether or not to award Los Campesinos! a “Stylus Recommends” tag. The crux of the opposition hinged on whether or not we should bother if the review’s going up now (slightly more than two weeks after release). In a way, those against it are right. Two weeks can very well be too late for a MySpace phenom like Los Campesinos! They should enjoy the ride and die like good little blog one-week stands.
But there’s this one thing: great music doesn’t just up and disappear when people stop looking, so here’s hoping that two weeks after release, this review will help bring in some sales. Los Campesinos! is hep in all the right ways: boy-girl vocals, elements of tinkly orchestral instruments, and the members’ names have even been changed to the clever Ramones-style homogeny also employed by the Donnas and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (Aleksandra Campesinos! Ellen Campesinos! and so on). They even worry wittily; their biggest recorded concerns are “trying to find the perfect match between pretentious and pop,” and being told to “do the math,” which they make a whole rolled-eyes hook out of. No offense to Arcade Fire, but it’s kind of awesome when another group displays that kind of knack for shimmering arrangement and worldly insight, and they don’t let their knowledge weigh their spirits down so much that they have to make a whole record about the impending Armageddon.
What Los Campesinos! accomplish shouldn’t be so rare, but I can count on one hand how many outfits active in 2007 put out sixteen minutes this brilliantly tuneful, and that’s the length of 100% of this group’s recorded output so far. Opener “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives,” is glorious. It barely gives you a second to think before launching into one of those elaborately caramelized choruses than makes you so you woozy and euphoric you may find yourself fellating the exhaust pipe on an ice cream truck. Gareth Campesinos! has a delivery as cocky and frantic as Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, but he rarely gets angstier than, “It’s your party and I’ll die if I want to.” Then you realize the sweet femme-chorus is cooing about “red stains all over the place,” and they want you to swoon to their disgusting sense of humor. Needless to say, this is awesome.
The jangly standout “Don’t Tell Me to Do the Math(s),” rides a pleasurable bullet train of twin lead-guitar lines, with Gareth’s and Aleksandra’s voices colliding on the tracks by the time it peters out. Before long, the first four songs are over in such a hyperactive rush that by the time your brain catches up to your hormones, you don’t even realize “Frontwards” is a Pavement cover. The six slightly slower-paced minutes of “You! Me! Dancing!” (like Elaine Benes, this band loves their exclamation points) froth with the jumpiest guitar riff since Bloc Party’s “Hunting for Witches,” augmenting the playground jangle groups like Architecture in Helsinki are wont to beef up. Hell, even the 35-second candy snort that bids you au revoir is a souvenir. They’ll be famous for more than two weeks, and talented for much longer.
Reviewed by: Dan Weiss
Reviewed on: 2007-08-02