“You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos! is arguably one of the greatest indie rock anthems to have ever been written. However, while the angsty 2000s indie rock movement is long gone, Los Campesinos! are still leading sing-a-longs about troubled romance and innocent handjobs over chorusing guitars in a way that calls back to that indie rock boom, but without any awareness that the world around them is changing. This is admirable to an extent — they understand their place in the indie rock canon and execute it to perfection. But without any kind of musical innovation or noticeable growth, the songs don’t hit as hard as they should.
The album starts somewhat ominously with a booming synth, but eventually builds into the catchy melodies for which the band has become known. Lead singer Gareth is still at it, calling and answering his own lyrics with his unique vocal affect. “Renato Dall’Ara (2008)” and “Sad Suppers” are classic LC!, almost to a fault. “A Slow, Slow Death”, “The Fall of Home”, and “A Litany/Heart Swells” are beautifully composed ballads, but can also very easily come off as cookie-cutter emo tracks without the necessary emotional connection to Gareth’s lament. I only recently discovered the band’s song “Avocado Baby”, which I thought was the most ridiculous song title ever until I came across “For Whom the Belly Tolls” on this record. And, of course, “Flucloxacillin” mentioned in a middle track treats “infected hearts.” Gotta stick with the theme.
The highlights of the album are when the anguish of the lyrics actually feels genuine, which happen to come with the musically hardest-hitting songs. The verses and chorus of “I Broke Up in Amarante” sound so much like Japandroids, who also recently released a new album with similar shouting over loud guitars. “Here’s to the Fourth Time!” is a much-needed breakthrough with a cool synth line and a break from traditional song structure, unlike anything else on the album.
Maybe Los Campesinos! are connecting with a new generation of troubled teens and I’ve just grown out of it. The consistency of this band is truly remarkable and perhaps this is just a reflection of my own musical taste shifting and growing as I go through life. As I was transitioning from an all-boys high school to a college, a girl whose music taste I tried very hard to emulate introduced me to Romance is Boring. The album filled with a teenage moroseness that I no doubt saw in myself but was too shy to share with anyone else. Now that I’ve graduated from college and have started a career, it’s natural to not linger in that past, and I know it is very unfair for me to expect my favorite bands to also grow up alongside me.
This is why I’m very nervous about a potential new Broken Social Scene (a band that also provided me and many other teenagers with relatable stories and powerful rock music and was also the first concert of my undergraduate years) album. The single “The Fall of Home” manages to address this growth out of your old personal institutions, like the closing pubs and increasing funerals in the hometown that you left for bigger dreams, and it creates a truly poignant moment that perhaps matches my experience with this genre of music.
But aside from my own existential crises, as an objective listener, these pop tunes don’t feel as moving as they would make you believe. I can certainly appreciate Los Campesinos! for their consistency and unfailing energy. There are kids out there who definitely need this music and reaffirmation that all emotions are natural. Los Campesinos! will always be there for you, whether you choose to grow out of their music or not.
Indie Rock | Wichita Recordings