Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster…(2008): Review

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Produced by David Newfeld
Label – Wichita, Arts & Crafts

Here’s a sure fire method of enticing Pitchfork and its hipster audience. Firstly, associate yourselves with Broken Social Scene for Indie authenticity. Create a frenetic collage of noise by bombarding the listener with as many musical instruments the college music department will let you borrow and worry little over any proficiency in being able to play them adequately. Long, meaningless and occasionally self effacing song titles will help immensely along the way. Don’t forget to add some exclamation marks to highlight the excitement! Find a male lead singer who can’t hold a tune in a bucket, but manages to sound like Jamie Treays kid brother after too much Tartrazine. Bingo! You’ve got yourself a sure fire smash. Except you haven’t really, because for all of Pitchfork’s fawning, Los Campesinos’ previous single and E.P releases haven’t registered in any North American chart and failed to dent the top 50 in their homeland. I’m being glib; pseudo intellectualism never sells to mainstream audiences anyway, and “Hold On Now Youngster…” is full to the brim with “high brow” interpretations of halls of residence life, ironic monologues for a bunch of kids you just know would sit together in a tiny clique and snigger at the world.

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On a scale of 10 for brash exuberance and energy “Hold On Now Youngster…” gets the maximum, with frantic arrangements as BSS’s David Newfeld attempts to keep the lid on their Pop/Punk euphoria and create a collection of songs that harness their natural bravado into something memorable. “Death To Los Campesinos” kicks off the album in fine style, with its frenetic rhythm, nimble guitar lead, and hooky chorus, all resulting in the most enjoyable cut. From there on it’s a relentlessly headlong descent through amateurish workouts that show little variation in musical dynamics. Every song seems like a 90 m.p.h thrash and the ensuing battle between the dual vocalists, yelping to be heard over the instrumentation and indeed each other becomes an odious irritation. Eventually they resort to unedifying shouting competitions. No amount of ebullience can delude the listener into thinking that the dual vocals of Gareth and Aleks Campesinos are anything other than child like, and that’s where the biggest disappointment lies. This band has undeniable potential, but one gets the feeling that Newfeld couldn’t focus their strengths into something more lasting. The band wanted their lyrics to read like a novel, when really they presented themselves in comic format.

Too flimsy to be labelled relevant, Los Campesinos have created the Pitchfork lover’s own equivalent to “High School Musical” for scenesters.

4/10

Track Listing
1. “Death to Los Campesinos!” 2:52
2. “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats” 3:35
3. “Don’t Tell Me to Do the Math(s)” 3:22
4. “Drop it Doe Eyes” 2:44
5. “My Year in Lists” 1:51
6. “Knee Deep at ATP” 2:49
7. “This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics”” 4:20
8. “We Are All Accelerated Readers” 2:54
9. “You! Me! Dancing!” 6:48
10. “…And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes in Unison” 2:50
11. “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks” 4:31
12. “2007: The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)” (unlisted bonus track)

Death To Los Campesinos!

My Year In Lists

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