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Los Campesinos!: Hold On Now, Youngster


Los Campesinos!

Album: Hold On Now, Youngster
Label: Arts & Crafts

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Don't dismiss Los Campesinos as too twee without listening closely: The Welsh band's debut full-length captures more believable, crackling punk energy than most hardcore bands. Hold On Now, Youngster—an appropriate title for a bunch that looks barely post-pubescent—makes its case with sunny, sarcastic looseness and an unfakeable sense of joie de vivre. Even as the seven-piece falls nose-over-tail having fun, singer Gareth Campesino (they're all named that way) is ready to skewer the world with pointed words and clever complaints. On paper, the combination of smarty-pants and serious-pants sounds like disaster; in practice, it makes one of the year's best discs so far.

Like a younger, less-serious Broken Social Scene—a band they clearly admire, if the opening track, "Death To Campesinos!", is any evidence—Los Campesinos find inspiration in collective energy, but unlike with BSS, the lyrics are direct and funny. "I spent the last seven years perched on the edge of my bed / Scratching 'I am incredibly sincere' into my forearms" rings hilarious and true in the context of a song about misunderstanding and underestimating the riot-grrrl movement. Add glockenspiel, violin, and references to Bis (the unstoppable "You! Me! Dancing!") and K Records T-shirts ("Knee Deep At ATP"), and you have a recipe for disastrous preciousness. Mix it up just right, though, and it's pure joy.