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Nothing has made sadness as cool or as alluring as pop music. All the dark sunglasses, pale faces, messy hair, frowns, minor chords, screeches about love, and every other sad sack signifier are not the result of pain, suffering, or malady. These are the masks so many guitar-toting kids have put on because they wanted to be cool. There is nothing cooler than being heartbroken to a point that could propel you across a stage while yelping songs of utter despair to faces thinking about how fucking awesome it must be to be that sad. Unconsciously, we see wonder in this sadness and we want it even though it will wreck us just a little more.
There’s a difference between this glamorous sadness and actual depression, mind you. This minor sadness is that type of feeling you get from being occasionally downtrodden, the feeling you get from finding out a minor high school boyfriend is engaged and almost a doctor, the feeling where you allow yourself one more beer because why not? or because you really have no idea, the feeling where you say the world is pressing down on you but it’s mostly ennui, those consistent feelings from mostly ephemeral scenarios. There’s relief in these feelings because they remind you of your humanity, in its good and its bad.
The perfect (and as I say perfect, recognize that I am an unflinching fanboy to an embarrassing extent) thing about Los Campesinos! is how well their songs recognize and relate to this idea. This idea that there is sadness and it permeates, but these feelings for all their weight and unpleasant offer a modicum of comfort. Turn those teary eyes into cheerleader chants, those broken hearts into beers, those suburban dirges into dances. As you listen to the new LC! album, you could catch yourself saying, “You know what, you’re right. There aren’t any blues that can sound as heartfelt as mine!” I mean, you could. I might have. Whatever. Let’s move on.
Tom (music) and Gareth (lyrics) Campesinos wrote a bunch of songs on No Blues that team Campesinos (Neil, Kim, Jason, and Rob) push along to rumble, stomp, and shout through sadness and uncertainty. While so many of the bands around when LC! hit the scene fizzled trying to form some identity from the disparate threads of what they believed they were, Los Campesinos’ music never seemed to go through a crisis like that. The band tried new things. Some members changed. However, they always moved with focus. In pop music we lie to ourselves. To paraphrase LC!, in honesty, we are mostly here for the lows. As always, Los Campesinos! allow you to bask in that darkness. They know you adore it. I do. I do I do.
– John Siegel