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Los Campesinos!

Hold on Now, Youngster . . .  | Wichita/Arts & Crafts
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  May 12, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
Los Campesinos! are what happens when Sarah Records meets Minor Threat. The seven-piece UK group wield every tool in the indie-pop arsenal — geeky humor, toy-box chimes, boy-girl harmonies — and hurl them with unexpected defiance. Nearly every song on their full-length debut, Hold On Now, Youngster . . ., is an onslaught of self-conscious jokes and hyperactive instrumentation. The whole production would be grating (as it was on many of their early EP tracks) if the band weren’t so unabashedly confident. Gareth and Aleksandra Campesinos! (they all share the last name — as well as the punctuation) sing with reckless abandon, as happy to share a sweet moment as they are to fight over hooks or break into melodramatic monologues. The melodies are packed to bursting with glockenspiel, keyboard, pizzicato violin, cymbal-heavy drums, and garage guitar riffs that rage like a squall on the album’s loudest calls-to-arms (“Death to Los Campesinos!”; “You! Me! Dancing!”). Producer Dave Newfeld, no stranger to sonic clusterfucks (Broken Social Scene), keeps the songs anchored without controlling them. Even Youngster’s more modest near-ballads, like “My Year in Lists,” preserve the band’s boisterous style through outlandish lyrics (“You said, ‘Send me stationery to make me horny’/So I always write you letters in multi-colors”) and ecstatic delivery, making twee fare like long-distance relationships or working in a bookstore seem like serious pop paydirt.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Chris Gray , Broken Social Scene
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