Los Campesinos! have finally embraced who they are.
‘Album’ of ‘the Week’
Label: Wichita Recordings
Released: 24th February 2017
There’s no denying that Los Campesinos! have played the long game. Prioritising a hard-working DIY ethos over making a quick buck, the music they’ve produced over the past few years has always been held together by one thing – a raw, open honesty in Gareth’s lyrics that incite wry smiles as readily as tears.
‘Sick Scenes’ pushes Los Camp!’s most distinctive qualities to the fore – hitting the perfect sweet spot of musical perkiness but lyrical despair. Speedy guitars and self-loathing battle each other to the finish line via an obstacle course of gang vocals, football analogies and Cure-worthy atmospherics, used to tell some close-to-home tales about love, depression and the ‘is this really it?’ anxiety that plagues so many millennials. So much of the bands’ career has centred around Gareth’s attempts to find love in a hopeless place, and it’s quite the sensation to experience his place in this record, seemingly having found it but not altogether better for it – ‘‘I’m glad to be in love, but I’m lonely/and I feel like I’m the only one’ (‘Hung Empty’).
This sense of no-frills honesty really glows on the record’s slower tracks – it’s no coincidence that the intro to ‘A Slow Slow Death’ sounds remarkably similar to that of past single ‘Hello Sadness’, beautifully describing the ‘elephant shoes’ that make it so difficult for depression sufferers to go about their lives. ‘The Fall Of Home’ is something even those lucky enough to avoid mental illness can relate to, watching a hometown go to shit as both memories and youth fade.
When depression statistics are higher than ever, and it’s all too easy to compare somebody’s else’s Instagram feed to our trash folder, ‘Sick Scenes’ feels like an important record. If acknowledgement really is half the battle, this is an album where Los Campesinos! have finally embraced who they are. Jenessa Williams