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Los Campesinos!, “Hold on Now, Youngster…” (Arts & Crafts) [2.5 STARS]

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There are plenty of reasons to dislike the debut album by this seven-piece indie-pop buzz band from Wales, starting with… its undue fondness for… ellipses and lots! of! exclamation points! Here are a few more: There’s more glockenspiel here than on any record since vintage Jethro Tull, paired with plenty of equally cheesy violin; the arch Art Brut-meets-Pulp spoken-word asides of Gareth Campesinos!—no real last names for any of these excitable collegiate auteurs—who is no Eddie Argos, much less a Jarvis Cocker; and the ironic intellectual pretensions on one hand (chattering about existential crises and bragging that “We Are All Accelerated Readers”) paired with faux-naive playground confessions on the other (Aleksandra Campesinos! compares an ideal boyfriend to Spiderman, and can easily be imagined dueting with Kimya “Juno” Dawson).

Above all, though, there is the cloying, clubby nature of the lyrics, which are full of so many inside-indie-rock references that a casual listener will need a Rosetta Stone to decipher them. (“So stick with your instincts/Stick with the imprints/With the hieroglyphics that the fan club sent us,” Gareth exclaims on “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats.”) The shame of it all is that the band’s exuberant melodies are otherwise so infectious and invigorating that if the Campesinos! could have invested them with real emotion of any kind and given up trying to exclude everyone who isn’t anti-cool enough to worship K Records, they might have made a masterpiece.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on May 6, 2008 4:45 PM.

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