Monday, September 19th, 2011

Los Campesinos! – By Your Hand

Facial expressions!


Doug Robertson: So in thrall to the indie bands who have come before them, Los Campesinos — who do not get an exclamation mark when I’m writing about them — once again fail to come up with an original idea of their own, happily disproving the old adage by being so much less than the sum total of their influences, even with the clear mathematical precision by which their entire sound is constructed. As music goes, this is an unnecessary and ugly contrivance that, like drinking vinegar, fails to satisfy on any level.

Katherine St Asaph: An infernal combination of Thought Catalog, dollar-store Decemberist fantasias and frat-rush singalongs, with a chorus that demonstrates how dozens of dudes can lurch along the asymptote toward good singing and never come close. Naturally, people will love it.

Iain Mew: While continuing a slight move away from musical abrasiveness, this features just about everything I would expect and want from new Los Campesinos! It’s dense in ideas but still finds room for a big chorus. Gareth still displays a sharp wit and a daring attitidue to the risk of lyrical TMI as well as continuing to field entertainingly bizarre sporting metaphors (“You peel your white gloves off seductively before you respot”!) I am still looking forward to Hello Sadness with great anticipation and am sure this will make for a fine opener, but as a standalone single, it doesn’t add up to quite the explosive return I hoped for.

Alex Ostroff: I was thrown off at first by Gareth’s change in tone — well-supported and sounding trained for perhaps the first time on record — and the slower, more deliberate pace. Even compared to Romance is Boring, it’s evident that the band are not the frenetic youth that they once were. The “hands in my trousers” line is more worthy of McFly than Los Campesinos!, but the harmonies on the chorus are enough to win me over, and the retention of the horns from the last album’s experiments are a welcome addition to the sonic texture. I still wish that Aleks (or one of the other girls) had been around to record the spoken-word bridge.

Jonathan Bogart: Very, very few people in this world can be Jarvis Cocker. In fact science has, to date, only discovered one.

Brad Shoup: It’s a stupid story, and I think they know it on some level, but I’m not convinced they know how stupid. One decent, chanted chorus and some OK 8-bit synth piddling put to waste by a trite narrative, halfhearted attempts at imagery (bathrobe and curlers? Is he getting felt up by The Golden Girls?) and a snivelling sing-song delivery.

Anthony Easton: Is this a parody of sad guitar mopery? I wouldn’t think so, but the video, with the discarded Polaroid via hipstamatic aesthetic interrupted with camp horror (bleeding watermelons?) suggests an ironic joke. Outside of the video, which is actually kind of uncanny and not badly done, and the tension between the speaking and the singing, the rest of it is Brooklyn bait. But the video — the video is kind of genius.

Alfred Soto: Abjuring mope for the kind of experiment that toys with irony as mercilessly as the title girl does with the singer and encompasses an infectious Casio hook, these Welsh pranksters compose a theoretical love song with too many words, but at least the words signify as an impassioned tumult. The tension between celebration and lingering on the sidelines with an arched eyebrow is more obvious now than in 2008. It’s something to watch out for.  

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