Boisterous, brash, and bratty might sound like characteristics best used to describe foul-mouthed punks and the “ready, steady, go” rush of guitars and drums they embrace. But as Los Campesinos!’ debut album Hold on Now, Youngster… (Arts and Crafts) affirms, such aforementioned adjectives are hardly limited to rock and roll’s pissiest of genres. No, this crew of Cardiff kiddos (who all sport the mythical surname of Campesinos) flip classic punk cynicism on its’ head instead, fashioning something a little more pure in spirit. Why they even tune their instruments (almost) up to notes that resemble that of the melodic tones they were always meant to output. Thus results in a band that fondly embraces the energy and spirit of their punk rock brethren, without ever tapping into the chaos and madness that made it so dangerous (at times). Of course Los Campesinos! aren’t wimps either. They just play pop music of a more highly caffeinated variety.
Cycling through the record, it quickly becomes apparent that I have heard this kind of thing before…but that’s ok. Hold on Now, Youngster... definitely ups the kind of cheerleading squad theatric New York’s own Ra Ra Riot set out to champion ‘round this time last year. Plus, Welsh accents trump no accents whatsoever. Especially when blurting out shameless, yet “spit whatever that is your chewing on ‘cause they’re too damn funny” kind of lyrics like, “You said send me stationary to make me horny/So I always write you letters in multi-color, decorating envelopes for foreplay” (“My Year In Lists”). Are Gareth and Aleksandra Campesinos even old enough to say such nonsense?
Not that it matters. When a band can cut their way through the kind of enterprising numbers offered here, they can pretty much say whatever they want. Along the same lines, Los Campesinos! mix whatever instrumentation they want up into the mix as well. On songs such as “Death to Los Campesinos!”, “Drop It Doe Eyes”, and “You! Me! Dancing”, these young upstarts have themselves a rather radiant time. Pounding glockenspiels, slicing energetic strips of cut throat string arrangements, interchanging lovey dovey boy/girl versus, and declaring in the kind of plain speak that really let their…how do you say…foreignness (?) shine through; Los Campesionos! offer plenty to take stock in throughout the course of the high wire acts offered here.
Ultimately, I suppose it’s all rather precious. But don’t hold that against them. Los Campesinos! are just being the bunch of talented as fuck kids that they are. – David Pitz