Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Los Campesinos!

  • Sticking Fingers Into Sockets [Arts & Crafts, 2007] A-
  • Hold on Now, Youngster . . . [Arts & Crafts, 2008] A
  • We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed [Arts & Crafts, 2008] B+
  • Romance Is Boring [Arts & Crafts, 2010] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sticking Fingers Into Sockets [Arts & Crafts, 2007]
"Trying to find the perfect match between pretentious and pop," eh? You weren't hoping I'd quote that, were you? You must know that today's pop gets a lot more pretentious than this, and a lot deader, thus testifying to the perfection of your match. Pretty sharp for Cardiff U kids--Raymond Williams would be proud (I hope). Do they really dance to "You! Me! Dancing!" in Wales? They'd better, since it lasts six minutes and claims, credibly, that you yourself "can't dance a single step." Which, right, you also hoped I'd quote. A-

Hold on Now, Youngster . . . [Arts & Crafts, 2008]
The first words on the first proper album by these giddy, frantic, proudly hyperintelligent Welsh music snobs: "Broken down like a war economy." The seventh title: "This Is How You Spell 'Hahaha, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics.'" Only they're so giddy and frantic it's impossible to believe they're broken down with no hopes or dreams. They're merely hyperintelligent enough to know that holding on won't get any easier, and strong-minded enough to know that they'd better get a grip right now--or at least a head start as they leap toward heaven or into the abyss. Like their exclamation-pointed siblings the Go! Team, only with the better songs you'd expect of theoretical dance-pop that emphasizes the second half of the fusion, they believe! A glockenspiel in a guitar band? Freshens up the sound, they think. And they're right. A

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed [Arts & Crafts, 2008]
The painful detail and joyful exuberance are there once they get going. But in under two years this Welsh punk sextet has matured/devolved from tromping over their pan-sexual alienation like so many glockenspiel-wielding grape dancers to enacting "miserabilia" about how unfulfilling it is to get on your knees next to a urinal. Things aren't always so dire, and maybe that one is more ironic than the album title. But the joy of convincing punters they're a band is wearing off, leaving wordman Gareth less inclined to joke around about not just urinals but half-requited love and the "catastrophe" they still make a musical stab at staving off. So this really could be "The End of the Asterisk," and to put a point on it they bait their second 2008 album with one of the most underwhelming tour DVDs ever cross-collateralized. How little fame it takes these days to mess with people's heads. B+

Romance Is Boring [Arts & Crafts, 2010]
As experience dampens enthusiasm, they find fewer great choruses than great lines--"Every girl I ever kissed I was thinking of a pro footballer," for instance ("Plan A," "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think About the Future"). ***