Sporting a Spanish name and British roots, Los Campesinos! make lush, indie-rock anthems awash in youthful exuberance. Their history begins in 2006 when a few Cardiff University students got together to get a band together. They formed an impressive septet, and all took the cognomen Campesinos! for the stage.
The nascent band got a big push when, less than a year after forming, they were invited to open up for Broken Social Scene. They inked record deals in U.K. and the States, and after issuing a few singles and an EP, their first full-length Hold On Now, Youngster… hit stores in 2008. The did some hard touring, and loosed their sophomore LP We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed late that same year. During and after the recording of their third and fourth records, 2010’s Romance Is Boring and 2011’s Hello Sadness, Los Campesinos! went through a series of lineup shifts (continuing until earlier this year when founding bassist Ellen exited) leaving songwriters Tom and Gareth, and guitarist Neil the only original members remaining in the band. But the change in personnel hasn’t slowed their roll. They still maintain a rabid following, owing a lot the band’s egalitarian approach toward their fans. “When on tour, we still sell our own merch,” said Gareth in a sit-down with Interview magazine. “That’s really important, because the people who come to the gigs are exactly the same as us. If we weren’t in this band, we would be going to the same gigs that they were going to, and looking up at the stage in the same way that they do.”
Late last month Los Campesinos! released their fifth full-length No Blues. The new album finds guitarist and arranger Tom and frontman-slash-lyricist Gareth in top form. The single “Avocado, Baby” (which continues the band’s strange fascination with punctuation) is almost Top 40 catchy. The rhythms are perky, the guitars sharp, and the choruses rousing. There’s even a real-life cheerleading squad (the Cardiff Cougar All-Stars) backing them on the tune. But beneath the pert sonics, Gareth weaves a literate tale that touches on death and even some mythological infidelity. “Salacia’s in the depths, and if I avoid the nets, threaten, ‘I’ll cuckold you Neptune,’ for definite. Meet between the dog and wolf, with the hoarfrost underfoot, and I’ll show you every fire in Delphinus,” he sings. Gareth spins other great dark turns of phrase like, “May she who casts the first fist of dirt across the casket have mourners lick the mud from her fingernails,” and clever lines like the refrain, “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, that’s why they call me the avocado, baby.” The song is the sound of a young band keeping a firm grasp on the youthful energy that made them so exciting whilst grappling with burgeoning adulthood.