/ WICHITA RECORDINGS / SOUNDS GREAT /
Ahh, Los Campesinos! I remember the summer of 2008 as a sprightly, long haired 14 year old coming off the tailend of joyously experiencing the sound of QOTSA and the Desert Rock scene to joyously scour the internet for recommendations of music nobody ever heard of before. The Welsh outfit were relentlessly recommended by music fans and hipsters in all requests for new music, and boy what a time it was to be alive and in the centre of knowing who Los Campesinos! were.
That was nine years ago, and it seems nowadays everybody is just experiencing the highlights of 2008’s Hold On Now, Youngster… and don’t seem to know that four albums were made in between. Los Campesinos!’s discography appears to illustrate the steady life decline of teenage depression to being sad forever to realising that hey, I could deal with this, and with the group’s new album Sick Scenes, it seems a defiant step into the self-assured is back.
Opening track ‘Renato Dall’Ara (2008)’ features a gutsy instrumental with vibrant basslines, hard hitting drums and all of the passionate vocal delivery and background vocal OOH’s to bring us all right back to a time where we’d flick straightened fringes out of our eyes to the coming of age sounds of ‘You! Me! Dancing!’. It’s a nice hark back to the band’s most accessible time, while also showcasing a sound we’ve all wanted to hear from Los Campesinos! since.
Fortunately this gutsy approach follows through as ‘Sad Suppers’ and ‘I Broke Up In Amarante’ delivers all of the guitar riffs and ferocity we heard on Romance is Boring but missed on Hello Sadness. Singer Gareth David’s lyrics remain draped in as much anxiety as ever, but are delivered with a voice that sounds as self-assured as the instrumentations. This matured formula says farewell to the frenetic tempos and instrument performances we heard years ago and introduces a straight forward foundation that allows each band member’s strengths to be heard perfectly.
Sick Scenes is an album steeped traditionally in downbeat, depressed themes but offers some of the most accessible material Los Campesinos! has created. Since 2013’s No Blues the group have found a nice middle ground of eccentricities and accessibilities and Sick Scenes sees them build on that sound to create a record that’s entertainingly heartbreaking. It’s a great record, and quite cool to witness a new sense of self-discovery for the group at a time where a particular generation have grown up and experienced the same thing.