Los Campesinos!

    Hold on Now, Youngster


    … indie-pop bands have no room for punctuation anymore, at least not for the period, as if each new band itself were a full-stop or self-defeating thump on the Internet’s vast windshield, despite the heightening fervor of music critics (and listeners), who every month, it seems, find a new band to tout as the "saviors of rock ‘n’ roll" or the like, critics whose waning influence in the age of iTunes has driven them to grander gestures in order to stir up the faintest excitement about a band until said band inevitably slumps under the pressure or fails to capture an audience substantial enough in its first breakneck tour to make extensive playing and recording financially viable, to eventually peter out like a run-on sentence that’s forgotten its subject and predicate, dangling fans like participles no longer attached to any clause and inspiring irritating concept reviews such as this one, which deals with Los Campesinos!, an "exciting!" band of youngsters who have been seized upon as the new poster-children for a post-Britpop age of musical omnivorism (omni-voyeurism?) and aesthetic pastiche, seven bright-eyed indie geeks out of Cardiff University (none of them are actually Welsh) who exploded onto the "scene" not two years ago with their glockenspiel and boy-girl screaming matches after cutting a demo CD propelled to popularity on the Net until, in what seemed like breaths, they found themselves breathlessly opening for Broken Social Scene (whose David Newfeld produced their LP) in the summer of 2006 as label offers crawled in at every sweating pore, and Wichita Recordings, the triumphant suitor, signed the band (seniors in college) and spared little time in releasing three singles and an EP in 2007 and now this perplexing piece of work, the aptly titled Hold on Now, Youngster…, the debut LP of a band that had already made a name for its prolificacy and tireless momentum and whose album risks uniformity in its relentless assault and homogenous instrumentation even while it astutely blends a menagerie of lyrical and musical influences in the ingenuous disco-folk of the Boy Least Likely To (see "Death to Los Campesinos!"); the cornily titled, synth-chirping punk of the similarly exclaimed Thunderbirds Are Now! (see "Broken Heartbeats…"); the more sentimental violin rockers of Welsh outfits Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Catatonia (see "…And We Exhale…"); Art Brut’s heavily accented, self-deprecating one-liners and love songs endearing in their embarrassment (see "Drop It Doe Eyes"); the thick washes of Broken Social Scene and the saccharine duets of the Stars; and the list goes on and on, and the critics eat it up, regurgitating it into reviews while straining to sound more cultured and self-aware than a band brimming with shots at hipsters and year-end listers, K Records and "faux-romantics," a band fleeing on breakneck riffs from the throng of floundering British buzz-bands and whose greatest defense is its insular self-referentiality, as if they knew the only punctuation to be the single, explosive exclamation mark that both launched your Strokes, your Libertines and also doomed them to their petering and purposeless descent, as if by embracing their ephemerality the seven boys and girls might somehow transcend it — a grinning flash in the pan, Los Campesinos! spout the most specific and timely lyrics imaginable, cram in the most and the fastest riffs and transitions and breakdowns possible, as if they would drop out of the sky if they halted for a moment, as if the overcrowding of the indie-pop scene has forced the band to build upward and scream from the tops of teetering skyscrapers, and in the slower moments, letting itself free-fall as singer Gareth Campesinos! slips his insecurities from a veneer of savvy metaphors and logorrhea to lament how "Every sentence that I spoke/ Began and ended in ellipses," an observation that could apply as easily to the mercurial nature of the "post-modern" music scene as it does the groundlessness of love, while in "My Year in Lists," after somehow linking stationary to horniness, Gareth reigns in his manic word-smithing and realizes that he gets carried away by "extended metaphors," then proceeds to tear down his verbose fortress (the band is ceaselessly breaking down and building up) with heartfelt observations about masking anxiety behind convention and stilted symbolism — really, Hold on Now, Youngster… succeeds where the band does hold on: to genuine emotions, to vulnerability, to a cohesion that threatens to shatter under the pressure of self-deprecation and relentless skin-pounding; where they see beyond the ellipses and ceaseless metaphors and face life after the explosion, so here’s hoping that Los Campesinos! don’t release their greatest-hits compilation by the end of next year, that this album’s breathless sentence is not a death sentence, a run-on that has long since glimpsed its end and so consumes itself in tautologies until it senses the dull thump of punctuation (see the Unicorns), like a movie that reveals its twist too early or a concept review whose extended metaphor has long since shed its meaning…



    Band: http://www.loscampesinos.com

    Label: http://www.wichita-recordings.com

    Audio: http://www.myspace.com/loscampesinos

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