Funny how things change. When Los Campesinos! first emerged in 1997, they were a gleefully sickly mess of indiepop and more angular influences. Fingers were stuck in sockets, poetry was carved in doors and a whole mess of cherryade was spilled. At the centre of it all, lead singer Gareth Campesinos! was a fascinating mixture of fey pretension and self-conscious intelligence, spewing forth verbal tidal waves of sincerity, irony and introspection. Sure, it was fun. But somewhere along the way, the notoriously open young frontman got fed up of twee and began to look upwards from his navel.
So here we are with the 2010 version of Los Campesinos!. Whilst they’ve hardly turned into a snarling beast of a band, there’s little doubt that they’re angrier, more complex and harder-rockin’ than before. Set opener ‘In Medias Res’ sets a darker tone, less immediate but more impressive than the fizzy pop of their debut. “But let’s talk about you for a minute,” Gareth suggests, before taking us through a breathless tale of failed romance tied in with fear of unfulfillment. Lyrically, he’s moved on drastically, and the rest of the band are also clicking into a higher gear. This is grand, ambitious music, and it’s a genuine treat to witness.
Other new tracks from ‘Romance Is Boring’ bring a new-found sense of grace to the fore, to huge approval from the crowd. But it’s ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’ that steals the show – its effortless, sombre majesty is achingly sad but gloriously executed. Old favourites like ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ and ‘Death To Los Campesinos’ make appearances, and they’re still an arsenic-laced sweet course for the ears, but quite honestly they’re worlds away from the new stuff. So yeh, Los Campesinos! are changing. Growing up, they call it.