Nothing about the indie-pop band Los Campesinos! is totally straightforward. The band is Welsh, because it formed in Wales, but none of its members are Welsh. A 2008 release featuring ten new songs was considered "an extended EP," not an official album. All the band members use the stage surname Campesinos!--Gareth Campesinos!, Harriet Campesinos!, and so forth--and it's always styled with the exclamation point.
This can all come across as more than a little precious, and that's before you even get to the music, an oeuvre of raucous shout-alongs where it often sounds like thirty instruments are playing at once (at last count, there were eight Campesinos! in the band). The group loves to switch time signatures and chop the ends off measures unexpectedly; when combined with Gareth's overstuffed lyrics, which sound like flash-fiction stories crammed into the space of a couple of verses, the effect can be completely disorienting.
But it would be a mistake to write off Los Campesinos! as simply having a laugh, as though they were more concerned with looking clever than making stirring, adventurous rock music. It's hard to listen to a song like "There Are Listed Buildings," whose bop-ba refrain is the sonic equivalent of jumping on a trampoline, and not get the sense that something is being urgently communicated. "I think I'd do it for love if it were not for the money," Gareth declares on the chorus. Whatever he's talking about, you get the feeling he means it.
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