An edited version of this review originally appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post.
Although they have been playing for under a year, and are juggling their musical activities with full-time degree courses, Los Campesinos! have already built up the sort of grassroots buzz that other, more career-minded young bands would kill for. As yet uncorrupted by success, the Cardiff seven-piece radiates a shambling, unforced charm which is hugely endearing.
Their songs are complex, cleverly worked affairs, stuffed full to bursting with tricksy arrangements, unexpected changes and literate, articulate lyrics. Despite all this precociousness, the material remains accessible, catchy and melodic. Yes, it’s as indie as indie gets – but there’s none of the sullen dourness which so often mars the genre. John Peel would have adored them, without a doubt. As one song puts it, their aim is “to find the perfect match between pretentious and pop”. You have to love them for it.
The band’s sound is propelled by fluid, chiming guitar runs, and augmented with violin, glockenspiel and melodica. Their short, energetic set climaxed with the crowd favourite and future classic You! Me! Dancing!, and the equally anthemic Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks. These are still early days, but their potential is huge. Once those finals are out of the way, there’ll be no stopping them.
Update #1: Local blogger Lord Bargain was also there last night as well – good to meet you at last, Lord B – and his decidely more measured review can be found here.
Update #2: I have Ben at Silent Words Speak Loudest to thank for alerting me to the band in the first place – and here’s an excellent interview which he did with them last month, for the final issue of a free magazine called Vanity Project.