Los Campesinos!

No Blues

BY Jazz MonroePublished Nov 4, 2013

Latest effort No Blues once again finds Los Campesinos! riding their hearts into battle, returning smarter and stronger, if a little bloodied. On a fifth LP of verbose anti-rap and lovelorn twee — their first since bassist/co-singer Ellen Waddell's departure — themes of romantic and mortal death advance amidst a profusion of calorific choruses ("Avocado, Baby," "What Death Leaves Behind") and cute soccer references ("we connected like a Yeboah volley"). Sometimes, given singer Gareth Paisey's mewling tone, their purple prose lends their harrowing fantasies an uncomfortable self-satisfaction: closer "Selling Rope (Swan Dive to Estuary)" indulgently chronicles a bridge jumper's last gasp as birds bearing witness from treetops dare to express indifference. Elsewhere, the lyrics, which self-justify and counter-argue endlessly, presuppose a type of chronic inferiority in the listener, appealing directly to the nervous, self-obsessive and immature, therefore evading a diagnosis of any such problems. It's wormy, pathetic and yet, in its way, as compelling and vivifying as the best of its type. No Blues is precisely the grimly euphoric lift-up it purports to be, validating Los Campesinos! on their own terms as connoisseurs of perversely thrilling, desperately mundane misery.

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