No Blues, Los Campesinos! fifth push as Wales’ resident dividing line “between pretentious and pop,” [LISTEN] doesn’t reinvent the wheel. But its undeniable catchy per Campesino standard, marrying twee, with occasional punk kicks, subtly unique progressions and frequent soccer references (sorry, Europe, it’s what we call it) executed by Gareth Campesinos! with a Vampire Weekend level of wordplay, minus the Bottomtooth-ian douche-snobbery.
It bounces between supremely dark and uplifting, always starting with the depressing, such as Gareth’s fear of death on both “What Death Leaves Behind” [LISTEN] and “Cemetery Gaits” [LISTEN]. He calls himself out on his Debbie Downer attitude, one that can break up a dive bar audience, sending “all the patrons running home to make up with their first wives.” Eventually, he overcomes this moodiness on “Glue Me” with vulnerable honesty, which is absolutely essential as mortality can be hidden even in unsynchronized watches: [LISTEN]
That sacrificed dignity is what gives Los Campesinos! power, even in Gareth’s bitter retelling of life as the “ex-boyfriend” bard. While “Glue Me” never swings positive, elsewhere he finds deep connections with his fellow human beings and God through earthly means, such as beer, carved initials, murder and even in a pukey bathroom sink.
If you’re into late-night Taking Back Sunday singalongs, synthy power-pop, earnest indie music a la Arcade Fire (whom Gareth’s voice reminds at times), or even arena-packing beef like, well, Arcade Fire – then your blues is No Blues. There’s a moment on the opener‘s Eeyore-themed, mumblecore first verse, before Gareth transitions to the stomach butterflies of giddy, anxious infatuation – “Knees knocking and/Blood flowing so/I want you to know that I want to;” [LISTEN] – which is pretty much what it feels like to spin this tale, even with the heartbreak looming around the corner.