The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Black Sky Thinking

Los Campesinos! First Against Wall In TWAT! (The War Against Twee)
Steven Wells , August 18th, 2008 11:24

The world stands, yet again, on the brink of the nuclear war, while simultaneously frying, blowing, flooding and burning to a premature end. How do twee band respond? By jumping up and down, shouting 'Yay!' and drinking Cherryade. Swells is unimpressed.

Add your comment »

"Dad, it’s some old English cunt!" screams my six-year-old daughter Tracey Trotsky Spinoza Jones.

"It’s three in the fucking morning," I grunt, grabbing the phone.

"It’s only six months since the 14-legged abortion that is Los Campesinos! released their first abomination," roars Quietus editor John ‘Duran’ Doran on the line from London, England, "and now they’re already about to release their second album."

He weeps as he speaks, and within seconds I am weeping too.

The world teeters on the brink of World War fucking three and Los Campesinos! — an exercise in reverse engineered paedophilia — are relaunching their Frankenstein's monster twee revival showband with a new fucking album and a tour entitled Wet Yr Bed — presumably a fair warning to the UK's groupies that this is what’ll happen if you take one of Los Campesinos! home. I’m sorry, I misread that, the tour’s called Shred Yr Face. Which appears to a glassing reference. Which makes no fucking sense at all.

Last month Jilted John reformed himself. This made me hard. It made me yearn for the return of Plastic Bertrand on the condition that he only perform ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’

It made me nostalglitoggle the Television Personalities ‘Part Time Punks’ and The Members ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ on my punk pathetique packed i-pod. But what it didn’t make me do is yearn for a twee revival. Are you fucking listening, Pitchfork’s Nitsuh Abebe?

Nitsuh used to be a hero of mine. He once defined twee as "Undramatic kids (who) saw an opportunity to make music as themselves, for themselves: regular middle-class white kids in plain clothes, not especially sexy, not exactly musically brilliant, and more often sad than angry." Which I thought was as damning an explanation for the existence of these boring, unsexy and stupendously dull Paddington Bear’s tiny furry cocksucking cunts as I’d ever read.

Indeed I thought it an even better put down than John Doran’s splenetic "how does sucking your thumb and listening to the Field Mice combat sexism anyway? Fucking blinkered appeasers. Who the fuck sings songs about running out of cherryade at a party anyway? They're all in their late 20s and the world is about to end. Kill them. Kill them all."

Or Tracy Trotsky Spinoza Jones’ comment that "twee is a way to make dull, uninteresting and suburban people feel good about themselves."

Or indeed my own description of the loathsome Belle and Sebastian and their irritating paedo-pop ilk as "self-loving, knock-kneed, passive aggressive, dressed-up-in-kiddy-clothes, mock-pop-creepiness peddling, smug, underachieving, real-pop-hating no-talents celebrating their own inadequacy with music so white it’s translucent."

Imagine my shock when the aforementioned Mr. Nitsuh Abebe got in touch to say that—while he stood by his original quote about how twee had basically skullfucked punk’s original DIY aesthetic to death with its rank cowardice—this was, in his opinion, a good thing.

This provoked a flurry of correspondence which ended only when I ascertained that Mr. Abebe is American and that therefore listening to his comments about twee — as erudite as they were — was a little like getting advice on the correct way to play cricket from a Martian.

Not cricket

Not only does Mr. Abebe think dressing up like a simpering ninny from some 1930’s jolly hockeysticks, barely-disguised kiddy-fiddler wank fantasy is a good thing, he also — in an article that is considered by many to be the definitive piece of writing on the twee phenomenon on Pitchfork — traced the gangrenous genre back to The Television Personalities.

Fuck off. The Television Personalities (and their alter egos The O Levels) were not twee. The clue is in the fact that they didn’t suck. They didn’t simper. They didn’t peddle a drained-of-all-ideology, passive-aggressive, un-analysed and hideously ill-defined porridge of cringe-worthy pederasty, noxious nostalgia, oblique poetastery, tuneless fax-pop, bourgeois arrogance (posturing as DIY separatism) and right-wing anti-proletarian middle-class smugness (posturing as anti-macho anti-sexism).

Was twee ever genuinely radical? Was it ever anything more than a cowardly retreat from subversion, empowerment and experimentation into a nauseatingly reactionary paedo-aesthetic? Surprisingly, yes it was—for about 5 minutes.

In Olympia, Washington State in 1984, a young man called Calvin Johnson decides to rip the piss out of the brutally macho, one-dimensional, throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater straight white male travesty that is American hardcore punk with a superlimp pissrippery called Beat Happening — the first American twee band.

Beat Happening make also-on-the-bill Henry Rollin’s superbly muscled head hurt. He stares at this abomination like a confused dog. He screams abuse. He reaches up and grabs Johnson’s cock—at which point Johnson deigns to notice him, looks down at Rollins and says: "Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?" (It’s in the book Our Band Could Be Your Life.)

But, as Joe Strummer never wrote: "Those who fuck with nuns will later dress up like seven year olds in a way that is creepy without ever being fun." Twee is a frequently reoccurring herpes virus under the foreskin of the popcock and Los Campesinos! are the weeping sore. Unless measures are taken to stop them I predict a full-blown twee pandemic by the end of the decade.

So the only question is — what are YOU going to do in The War Against Twee (TWAT)? I myself will be breaking into the homes of all eight members of Los Campesinos while they are away on tour and urinating in their empty beds. And placing razor blades in the orifices of their suspiciously life-sized teddy bears.

It’s the only language they understand.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Teddy Graham
Aug 18, 2008 12:50pm

Chips Ahoy!

Reply to this Admin

Miles B
Aug 18, 2008 2:23pm

Oh, Steven. You're cute when you're angry.

Reply to this Admin

I'm Spartacus
Aug 18, 2008 2:48pm

Have you seen this?

Reply to this Admin

Alan Richards
Aug 18, 2008 2:55pm

I thought this website was aimed at an older, more mature audience?

This reads like the rants of a 14 year-old. "14-legged-abortion"?


How can someone so old be so enraged by style of music aimed at people so much younger and less sad than him?

What a silly little person you are.

Reply to this Admin

Mervyn Dalek
Aug 18, 2008 3:28pm

Have you checked out Drowned in Sound, Alan? They're much more grown up,

Reply to this Admin

Steve Mack
Aug 18, 2008 5:22pm

'Swells is unimpressed'? Please don't refer to yourself like this. It makes you sound like a cunt.

Reply to this Admin

terry dactyl
Aug 18, 2008 6:27pm

Am I the only one to find it rather strange that nobody on this site or on the DIS board ( seems to be able to find anything to say in defence of poor old Los Comps? Does everybody hate them? Or has the art of debate gone the way of the passenger pigeon, proper dancing and the dodo? Oh, and what makes you think Swells writes his own sub-heads, you ninny?

Reply to this Admin

salmon dave
Aug 18, 2008 7:29pm

This is the order in which I would do Timmy from Los Compesinos cuddly toys: Little Ted, Big Ted, Mr Cuddles, Eric the Gonk, Winnie the Pooh, Eyore and John the dog.

Reply to this Admin

Aug 18, 2008 7:41pm

In reply to terry dactyl:

1) The moron who wrote this article isn't worthy of a balanced response.

2) How exactly do you propose we debate with him?

Moron: "Los Campesinos are like the holocaust in my ears."
Disagree-ers: "No they aren't."


3) This article sounds like its written by a bitter old man, angered by the fact that fame and recognition has evaded him, resigning himself to the fact he's writing for a website probably read by about twelve people and that a band he doesn't like is getting a relative amount of success.

I've heard this website is supposed to be aimed at old men. They're certainly strengthening the perception that old men are miserable traditionalists, twisted by their fading youth and, in the writer's case, lacking hair.

Los Campesinos are getting a lot of attention based on the fact a lot of people enjoy their music. This writer is getting less attention based on his dogdirt journalism and embarrassing immaturity.

Reply to this Admin

Lord Mercury
Aug 18, 2008 9:17pm

In reply to Unknown:

Fpr me it would be John the dog followed by Erik the gonk, then a three way with big and Little Ted and then another three way with Pooh and Eyore. And then John the dog again.

Reply to this Admin

trevor Candleberry
Aug 18, 2008 11:53pm

I used to have a teddy bear called Wrightford Lewisham. I say—you're not him are you?

Reply to this Admin

Aug 20, 2008 4:46pm

So you don't like how they dress and their apoliticism infuriates you. Now, ignoring your frankly telling obsession with paederasty, you make no points that are beyond the rabbidly aesthetic. How dare twee acts make small, pretty, accessible music. How dare they be considered credible for same. How dare they aspire to something more vivid and less artificial than mainstream pop, less hostile (and ineffectual) than punk, and frankly more fun than indie rock. How's life in the wretchedly cynical lane working out for you? Or is this simply a failed attempt at controversy?

At least he mekon was funny.

Reply to this Admin

Monty Blythe
Aug 20, 2008 5:14pm

In reply to Unknown:

I'd go gonk, John the dog, Pooh, Little, Eyore and save Big for last. Is there a website where we can see his toys? I've go raging twee wood,

Reply to this Admin

John E
Aug 21, 2008 5:19pm

How sad is it that this Swells fellow is still coming out with the same phony outrage after... oh, how long has it been?

Reply to this Admin

dog handler
Aug 21, 2008 5:46pm

In reply to John E:

I've had John the dog. He wasn't all that.

Reply to this Admin

lone ranger
Aug 21, 2008 9:58pm

What about Mr. Cuddles? Why does everybody always forget Mr Cuddles?

Reply to this Admin

Karl Henderson
Aug 22, 2008 8:22am

What a brilliantly written article. It's just a shame you're so wrong! :D

Reply to this Admin

Tommy B-more
Aug 28, 2008 2:07pm


Reply to this Admin

Laura Snapes
Sep 2, 2008 10:23am

I came here looking for something supposedly "grown up" to read. This is horrendous writing, which largely doesn't relate to the headline... I suggest some Charlie Brooker for wont of a good polemic.

Reply to this Admin

Steven Adams
Sep 5, 2008 10:13am

Hear hear. My mum always said I'd wet the bed if I picked dandelions.

Reply to this Admin

Jennifer Perkin
Sep 19, 2008 10:24pm

Ha! Ha ha! This article has made my day. Where has Swells and The Quietus been all my life?

Reply to this Admin

Oh My
Oct 15, 2008 9:19am

"They're all in their late 20s and the world is about to end."


"...Paddington Bear’s tiny furry cocksucking cunts as I’d ever read."

Nice grammar there.

Since when was the world about to end? You are a fucking moron. I'd think this was stupid and over the top even if I hated Los Campesinos!, which I don't, I adore them.

It's amazing that in condeming them, you managed to become even more pretentious than they themselves. And at least it's obvious they try to be.

Reply to this Admin

Jordan Garland
Nov 6, 2008 1:48pm

In reply to Teddy Graham:

8 Members, but fourteen legs in the aforementioned abortion?

Sod 'The War Against Twee', what about 'The War Against Twats', namely you. You don't like twee, boo fucking hoo, you don't have to be a cunt about it.

Reply to this Admin

Jon Doran
Mar 3, 2009 8:13pm

Swells, if you'd throttled The Legend! when the opportunity presented itself we wouldn't be in this fucking mess now, would we...?

P.S. Does anybody actually BUY Plan B btw?

Reply to this Admin

Dec 28, 2009 12:32am

Watch "Yr" language. I feel that giving a bad review to a whole genre is rather juvenile, you biased fool.

Reply to this Admin

Jun 14, 2010 9:41pm

Note to Pic Ed: The Mekon was from Mekonta. On Venus. Not Mars.

Reply to this Admin