Los Campesinos! redefines indie-pop

Two records and two tracks to introduce you to the most underrated Welsh band of all time.



Christian Davis, Writer

My close friends often say that I “evangelize” about music to them by passionately explaining my favorite records of any particular band, and they are getting fed up with how often I try to convert them into hardcore fans. The Welsh collective have been at the game since 2006, with a slew of studio records, EPs, and even a mini-album under their belt. Below are my two favorite records, and two tracks from other records.


“Romance is Boring”

I just cannot shake what indie-rock was like during my late middle school, early high school years, and “Romance Is Boring” embodies it all perfectly with its huge, baroque indie-pop setpieces. Keeping in mind they are labelmates with Canadian greats Broken Social Scene, it makes sense Los Campesinos! were unafraid to engage in indie-pop on a grand scale.

First track “In Medias Res” has one of the greatest horn breaks from any band on the Arts & Crafts roster, and the rest of the album follows suit. “A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State, or Letters From Me to Charlotte,” builds from a simple drum beat and electric organ duo to an emotionally charged testament to opposite-sex best friendship and the challenges therein with all the staccato horn riffs you could ask for. The entire record balances between indie-pop sentiments and punk crass, an intersection the band had perfected with the third record.

“Hello Sadness”

As a result of the band not counting the brilliant “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” as a full length LP, “Hello Sadness” is technically the band’s third record after “Romance is Boring,” even though for all intents and purposes it is seen as the fourth. Regardless, as the name implies, this is Los Campesinos! at their darkest.

Lead singer Gareth Campesinos!* has always flirted with cynicism and overtly frank lyrics, and “Songs About Your Girlfriend” is dotted with as much humor as it is despair. The entire record is somewhat muted compared to “Romance is Boring.” Gone are the huge horn breaks, but violins still texturize some of the more evocative moments on the album’s title track. “It’s hope that springs eternal / and that’s the reason why / this dripping from my broken heart / is never running dry.” This band manages to make sadness feel like hope, and vice-versa. Tracks like “Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)” take a page out of the emo revival handbook, with guitar riffs that would make sense on any Topshelf Records release from the past few years. At just ten tracks, “Hello Sadness” packs the emotional punch “Romance is Boring” did in 15, and is devastating in its charm.

*Every member of the band gets a new last name upon entry. Consider it a family affair.


“You! Me! Dancing!”

Los Campesinos!’s first record is unashamedly giddy, a trait I feel has been mournfully lost in the past five years of indie-rock. The fact that “You! Me! Dancing!” has each word separated by an exclamation point has always made me laugh. The hook is literally “It’s you! / It’s me! / And there’s dancing!” They cannot even finish a proper sentence! There is something so wonderfully honest about that — a prime example of our inability to voice feelings when everything seems to happen all at once.

“We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed”

The title track from Los Campesinos!’s strange transition album perfectly captures the band’s growth from scrappy debut to second record glory. Allegedly, the band refuses to acknowledge “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” as an official full length album, but regardless the title track is the perfect mixture of bratty indie-punk with the pop-sensibilities they would perfect by the next record.

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