Review Summary: !
The application of the Los Campesinos! ethical theory is that, no matter how many times you give up your critique of them over grammatical pains, never let them go without dropping a one-liner. My favourite of Hold On Now, Youngster...
is also the most ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is that it is an actual line that actually gets sung: “This is how you spell ha ha ha, we destroyed the hopes and dreams of a generation of faux romantics”
Get it yet? Los Campesinos! are, from their anything but humble beginnings, the most assertive band ever to debut, which is probably the reason We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
followed on a sweet sixth months afterward: you can’t debut twice guys, no matter how immediate your sophomore record is. Before it, however, is something with even more of that same immediacy. Hold On Now, Youngster…
pulls every trick these hyperactive Welshmen/women want it to, on paper and off, but especially on: they discard their real surnames and become the latest band living in a cosy cult, with Gareth Campesinos! on vocals and Tom Campesinos! on guitar, and some other Campesinos! who encourage their fans to be Campesinos! They allude bands as obscure as possible (“Meanwhile, back at home with Communist Russia playing on my headphones”
), list Indie documentaries (super-secret bonus-track “2007: The Year Punk Broke My Heart”) and they question a trend too many, but with no real debate that isn’t for the sake of it; Los Campesinos! is lyrically the sort of band that collected all the comebacks they ever thought of hours after various arguments, and smugly penned them all down. On Hold On Now, Youngster…
they have an overload of opinions that come disarming in analytic and vagueness, as in “You! Me! Dancing” where nazly-voiced Gareth philosophises “It's sad that you think that they're all just scenesters/And even if we were it's not the scene you're thinking of/To take props from like these boy band fashions/All crop tops and testosterone passion.
. The band basically ends up creating 12 double-edged swords that are impossible to attack because they are as hollow as they accuse everyone of being. Fun for a sing along, though.
If the signature sound of Los Campesinos! annoys you because their music is forever the same mix of all those things you love to hate or hate to love, it’s fair to say that you’ll be battling your feelings front on with Hold On Now, Youngster...
. This is far and away their most extroverted album, with the band more of a collective than they could ever aspire to be in the coming years: in just about every song, glockenspiels overlap violins which overlap guitars which overlap drumbeats, with back and forth musical cramming being the name of the game: “Broken Hearbeats Sound Like Breakbeats” is a summary of the band at the most amplified, just from the boy/girl vocal combination screaming “one/TWO/three/FOUR!
” to each other as if the apocalypse just got a whole lot more obnoxious. “My Year In Lists” is a similarly cramped tune, but ultimately culminates as the best of the band’s songs do – with words and vocals. The chorus of the collectively blurted out words “I cherish the fondness the day before I met you”
is bested only by the purest a’capella outro of “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”, which may just be the band’s most glorious moment, and to the band it is likely to be a lame afterthought that isn’t plugged in so doesn’t matter.
In spite of all this, the album’s pop hit is in fact the unconventional “You! Me! Dancing”, which takes seven minutes to blurt out a two minute idea. This song is the most conclusive of Hold On Now, Youngster…
because it defines the debut for what it is: the band already know themselves better than they think, but they still truly believe they are discovering themselves and such explains this track, elevated in the band's prehistoric post-rock discipline that rewards us with a two minute build-up worthy (perhaps ironically, anyway) of Godspeed You! Black Emperor with whom they share a love of punctuation. But nonetheless is it a pop hit and the band once again just have to go crazy, the guitars this time the driving force for the darling command “It’s you!/It’s me/It’s dancing!”
This album is Los Campesinos! firing on all cylinders – the unnecessary exclamation marks, the meaningless self-indulgence and the miscalculated attempt to revolt against something. It’s the genre it belongs to at dizzy new heights of irritation, but only because it is the loudest and proudest and least awkward of its kind. Also: glockenspiels.