Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Albums Of The Year: Numero Uno!!!

'Hold On Now, Youngster'
This time last year I'd never heard of Los Campesinos! at all. Then in January, an ear-arousing, stomach-jumping little single called 'Death To Los Campesinos!' started being played on the radio. A jangly, shouty pop anthem the likes of which I'd not heard in years. It was musically complex with everything from glockenspiels, guitars and violins to old-school Casio keyboards. The lyrics were dexterous and far too original for upstarts as young as these, and the call-and-response vocals betwixt boy and girl (she luminous and posh-sounding, he chavvy and loud) shouldn't have worked but did beautifully. Even the title was brilliant; not only having the audacity to put your own band name in the title of your first single, but to do it in such a cheeky, self-knowing way instantly grabbed me.

Who be these fellows of the Campesinos, thought I. Further investigation was needed. The album must be obtained. Said album, 'Hold On Now, Youngster', is the sound of the most exciting new band I've heard in years. Lo-fi enough in production to capture the spirit of a garage band, but with accomplished and commercial songwriting to make it unashamedly pop. It sounds messy on the surface, but has razor-sharp arrangement that belies a band their age. Above all, and this really is the clincher, it's so much fun!

The wordsmithery of this combo is equally inventive and impressive. It's impossible to know who wrote what (they don't use last names, it's simply Gareth Campesinos, Alex Campesinos, etc), but the imagery they bring with song titles and lyrics is staggering. 'My Year In Lists' begins with the lament of "You said send me stationary to make me horny, So I only write you letters in multi-colours" before uttering "Nothing says I love you like carving poetry in your door with a stanley knife".

Song title of the year goes to 'This Is How You Spell HAHAHA, We Destroyed The Hopes And Dreams Of A Generation Of Faux-Romantics'. Lyric of the year goes to the song 'We Are All Accelerated Readers', in which boy singer Gareth states "There were conversations about which Breakfast Club character you'd be, I'd be the one that dies". Upon being informed by girl singer Alex that no one dies in The Breakfast Club, Gareth quietly moans "Well then what's the point?". Later on we learn from Gareth "You said you look less like The Venus De Milo and more like your mother in a straight jacket". If that isn't genius enough, he ends the song with one final gem; "I'm not Bonnie Tyler, And I'm not Toni Braxton, And this song is not going to save your relationship / And if this sentimental movie marathon has taught us one thing, It's that the opposite of true love is as follows: Reality!".

Single of the year by miles is the knee-bending, intestine-curling 'You! Me! Dancing!'. A glorious pop masterpiece, an epic 2-minute guitar crescendo leads into the most fun song in years. Having seen Los Campesinos! play live twice this year, I can tell you that as soon as this song is played everyone goes into a euphoria of dancing/jumping/mania heaven (you really NEED to see this band live). Thanks to The Jonster and myself there is now even an official dance to this song that the band themselves seem to approve of!

I really want to mention the storming 'Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks' but this is already far too long. Just know it starts with the line "When the bigger picture's the same as the smaller picture you know that you're fucked" and proceeds into the second-best dancing tune of the year.

There you have it. The best band, album, single and gig(s) of 2008. And they only went and put out a brand new 10-track E.P last month.

Hold on now, youngster? No, hurry up! More please!


Blogger Jon said...

Snap! (and) Finished! A very wise choice, sir, I wholeheartedly concur! Very well played, roll on 2009.

4:58 AM  

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