Out Now on Wichita Recordings
Los Campesinos return after a four-year hiatus with an album that simply drips with angst and rattles with the sound of a soul in torment.
Any temptation you may feel to offer words of comfort and assurance that things will be alright to this band of troubled troubadours should be resisted on two counts. Firstly, they probably won’t be and secondly the muse of misery has led to the creation of something quite special.
The idea for most of the songs germinated while guitarist Tom Bromley was on tour with Perfume Genius in 2015 and Sick Scenes was recorded in Portugal during Euro 16. The band describe the context of the album as being “concerned with fumbling for personal relevance while trying to be a better person. Repressing anxiety and attempting to function while constantly maintaining the perfect two beer buzz”. Not a standard assignment then, but it has to be said that Los Campesinos have risen to the challenge superbly.
Frustrations are forced out in eleven power-packed dealings of disgruntlement. The breathless urgency of the opening tracks of Renato Dall Ara (2008), Sad Suppers and I Broke Up In Amarante are a declaration of despair delivered at full pelt. John Goodmanson and Bromley have done a superb job on production, with drumming of such power you feel the kit is due a visit to A and E driving the sound.
And then there’s the lyrics; the details of depression that is “a young man’s game”, that overflow from each song. “You on a lilo on an island in the Pacific, then me, I am face down, in a puddle on the high street” in Slow Slow Death will not be bettered all year.
With titles such as new single, 5 Flucloxacilin, Got Stendahls (a condition I was previously unaware of) and the excellent For Whom The Belly Tolls, this is an album that addresses serious issues. It is a seriously good album too and, crucially, avoids the trap of talking itself too seriously.
Sick Scenes is a collection of superbly crafted songs for the downbeat and dispossessed and the perfect antidote to the endless landfill of pallid and putrid pop currently swilling around.
All words by Dave Jennings Twitter: @blackfoxwrexham, Facebook