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Los Campesinos!
We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed Mick Middles , October 23rd, 2008 17:06

Los Campesinos

It’s like Britpop never happened. Nor Madchester, nor any of the flickering multitudes of genre that have gathered our attention during the past two decades. Los Campensinos! remain a lonely continuation of an indie dream, with its primary source locked in the C86 uprising. From that point of influence, this is a band that has largely travelled without peers…and it remains refreshingly difficult to pinpoint their closest musical allies.

On this second album We are Beautiful, We are Doomed the band’s journey becomes, if anything, even more intriguing. The scratchy deluge of last year now has a polish, of that there is little doubt, but there remains much vigour and sheer ebullience here. Not least on the impossibly hooky title track, with it’s delicious pilot organ, vicious swirling guitars, choir deep backing vocals that explode to a terrace chat at the half- way stage. On top of all this frenzied activity, a lone paranoiac lyric which darkens as the song hurtles towards a crashing conclusion.

This dizzying roller-coaster effect is fast becoming a trademark of Los Campensinos!, though by no means is it the only one. Mindful of battling themselves into a corner, where ever- diminishing revamps of their own sound would only see them slowly fade, they have deliberately utilised more instrumentation throughout. As such, just when you feel you have them nailed, something unexpected edges into view. The Tamla Motown bass that funnels through the heart of ‘You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing’ being a typical example of this. In addition, and if you take the album as a whole, you begin to sense a wonderful perversion of ‘80’s pop clichés. It forms an occasionally thrilling mess where familiarity drags you in and then simply warps to weirdness. Herein you my glimpse traces of New Order, The Cure, Aztec Camera all twisting into a delicious caricature.

As expected – another trademark-, the titles are inspired. How can a song called ‘It’s Never Easy Though, Is It?(A Song for the Other Kurt)’ disappoint? Well it doesn’t. Vocals are used as weapons here, falling around a grunting guitar that would make Mark E. Smith smile…well, perhaps not but there is a rawness here that prevents the entire affair from falling into areas of twee. That remains a distant possibility, though not here, now. Not on this contained explosion of an album.

Despite all this approval, one wonders if the title might still be depressingly prophetic as the sheer force of invention may prevent them from reaching that greater level of acceptance. That aside, this is a triumph. A band still – literally – hurtling in a forward motion. Scary to think where it may end, but it sure is fun. Los Campesinos! Are lodged in an unlikely groove where street culture meets art school. A rarified area, full of bluff and bluster. One can only hope they retain that defining sense of edge. More fun than the indie dream ever truly promised.

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