Under Review: Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

I recently watched a documentary about 80s D.I.Y. icons the Minutemen. The trio inspired scores of bands to take their careers into their own hands by self-producing their albums and promoting all their shows on their own. Though they arrived nearly 20 years after the Minutemen (and feature more than twice as many members), Cardiff’s Los Campesinos! exhibit the same underground ethos. Only a few months ago came the release of their debut full-length, Hold On Now, Youngster…, which itself followed a string of singles and EPs (just like the good old days). Showing blatant disregard for their debut’s titular warning, Los Campesinos! have already released their follow-up, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. As the band suggests, this is no B-Sides or outtakes collection, but a collection of 10 new songs that were recorded over an 11-day session in June. While most of the album is sonically similar to previous efforts, with rapid-fire lyrics over feedback-laden violins and glockenspiels, the septet’s songwriting is growing up at an alarming rate. Take, for example “Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time,” a woozy, mostly-acoustic song that’s actually about loving someone rather than just wanting to dance with them. True to their rebellion, the band hasn’t released any official singles from this new album, though opener “Ways To Make It Through A Wall” and the buzzy title track would make fine choices. In “You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing,” co-leader Gareth Campesinos! says (as if reading a letter), “I’m nothing if I’m not a pragmatist.” The band’s shunning of the modern rules of indie rock is quite similar to the Minutemen’s philosophy of “jamming econo;” that is, making records quick and dirty and not looking back. Though Los Campesinos! have only been around since 2006, they are doing an outstanding job of bringing back the creativity and attitude of indie’s formative years.


~ by E. on January 5, 2009.

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