Live Review: Los Campesinos!

Bootlegs, News - Published: 9 April 2012

The Cardiff-based energetic 7-piece stormed through Paris to play La Fléche D’or in front of a watching Sarah Moroz

Yes, Los Campesinos! has an exclamation mark written into the band name, and an exclamation mark indeed fits the nature of their darting tunes. The seven-piece band, which came to fruition in Cardiff, have been touring their fourth album, Hello Sadness. The outfit is fronted by Gareth Campesinos, a spastic lad, perpetually twitchy on the balls of his feet, his voice traveling between plaintiff yelping and bratty taunting. His energy is high-volume, but he has an unfortunate habit of “acting out” the song lyrics. Said lyrics are often fun and witty, but when the stage becomes a platform for charades (i.e. pointing to his heart when he says “heart”, shaking his head at lyrics with the word “no” and other very literal gestures), it dumbs them right down.

The songs of Los Campesinos! are bright and consistent; the brisk rock is punctured by tambourine shakes and cymbal splashes. First song: “By Your Hand,” an anthemic tune about dashed expectations and projecting hopes on others – “I have been dreaming you’ve been dreaming about me.” The band next transitioned into “Romance is Boring,” an offhanded sigh at the fizzle in relationships. The title track to the band’s most recent eponymous album, “Hello Sadness,” was played in the middle of the set, and felt middle of the road: solid without being terrific.

The standout tune of the night was “Songs about your Girlfriend”–sung with snarl, juiced with a sneer (the complete lyric goes “songs I’ve written about your girlfriend / Are just psalms of spite since it came to an end”). The meat of this song is about getting hot-headed and territorial over a lady, and that agitation just took the set to a different level with its jittery vengeful urgency, softened around the edges with owlish “hoo-oo” back-up vocals.

Overall? Yes, LC!’s energy is there, yet the songs are not necessarily that, well, memorable; one track tended to bleed into another. The lyrics can be quite funny and also relatable, but then again the juvenilia (“more post-coital and less post-rock” suggests Gareth on “Straight in at 101”) can veer dangerously into emo.