Copy of Los Camp! NO BLUES promo2 web edit

Los Campesinos!

It’s hard to remember the landscape in which Los Campesinos! first emerged
back in 2007.  Their peers were a selection of haircuts who seemed destined
for nothing more than a Saturday morning on the Soccer AM sofa having
some brief back-and-forth (we didn’t call it “banter” then) with Tim Lovejoy.
Los Campesinos! weren’t built for that world.  ey were more suited to the
coach trip back from the football match, brain space occupied by the fuckeries
of young love, yet distraught at another away loss. Music for the ‘wet Tuesday at
the Britannia’ of the heart.

Some things have changed, some haven’t. Some band members have left, some
have remained. But it’s best to look at Los Campesinos! like the plates at your
parents’ house: no matter what new things adorn it, there’s the emotional centre
that’s been there since the start that makes you feel at home. Something to feel
comfortable with…then you can embrace the new.

NO BLUES, the band’s fifth album (co-produced by John Goodmanson and
Tom Campesinos!) sees them do as they’ve always done: grow up without growing
older. Considering frontman Gareth’s recent work with Paul Heaton, we can
safely say that Los Campesinos! have passed their Housemartins days and are
now fully into their Beautiful South years.

“I think we definitely know more now what we want to achieve and how to go
about trying to achieve it,” says guitarist and songwriter Tom. “I think in the
past we’ve mistakenly assumed that progress as a band simply meant becoming
as technically complex as possible, but now we’ve come to terms with our musical
inadequacy,” he jokes. “So with this album we wanted it to be super melodic,
but with arrangements that enhance rather than cloud those melodies, while
also bringing in new textures, new sounds. Something like ‘Clarity’-era Jimmy
Eat World via Clams Casino seemed like a funny enough starting point to run
with.”

But while the music has become more focused, more direct, the lyrical content
of the album seems to have become more obtuse, harder to penetrate. While
the young Los Campesinos! were happy to go dancing in public fountains, NO
BLUES begins with an invocation of the fl ooding of Capel Celyn and ends with
a swan dive into a river.

It’s as unglamourous an end imaginable, a light year away from the traditional
suicide-on-wax of teen angst. It’s the self-termination of the professional. “We’d
spent a lot of time in the months leading up to recording deciding if we should
continue with the band at all,” says Tom. “Trying to make everything work
financially is a real struggle. When we finally got into the studio to record, there
was a definite surge of relief.  at ‘nothing to lose’ mentality ended up defining
the album.”

While the group’s usual preoccupations – death, drinking and listless sex – are all
present and correct, football takes the foreground. Name-checks of the beautiful
game pierce through this album and shimmer like calcite. Antonín Panenka,
Béla Guttmann, Cameroonian journeyman Joseph-Désiré Job. Even the home
ground of defunct Welsh part-timers Bethesda Athletic, Meurig Park, finds a
place in the lyric book (giving another chance for people to mistakenly refer to
the group as Welsh).

And it’s this that’s always been the weird dichotomy at the heart of Los Campesinos!
and one of the things that makes them so essential: regardless of them being
a band who are so rooted in the culture and realities of minor English towns,
they fi nd themselves clutched to the chests of people with no experience of

those places. A band who can make American teenage girls change their Tumblr
handles to start referencing Tony Yeboah in the very anticipation of this release.
Gareth concurs: “We’ve always attracted the frail indie kids as well as grown-arsed,
beer-bellied men, mirroring the transition I’ve undergone during the course
of the band, I guess. But this is a strength of Los Campesinos!.  ose disparities
are why we’re interesting. And also why we’ve made it to fi ve albums despite zero
commercial success.”

Zero commercial success? While the previously mentioned haircut bands that
used to be their peers have fallen into obscurity, returning back to their dayjobs
in marketing or releasing vanity solo projects, Los Campesinos! are still defi antly
here.  ey’re a band who’ve developed from cuts on their knees from dancing
all night through to cuts on their knees from sliding tackles, and NO BLUES is
an album for the survivor. “I couldn’t have maintained the gloom of our last record,”
says Gareth. “So we’re smiling now, even if it is through bloodied, broken
teeth.” Aren’t we all, Gareth? Aren’t we all.