Los Campesinos! 'Sick Scenes' review

Our verdict on the sixth album from indie pop collective Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes.

Lorna Gray

Last updated: 28th Feb 2017.
Originally published: 23rd Feb 2017

Image: Scene Scenes

Having formed over a decade ago in Cardiff, Los Campesinos! are a seven piece indie pop band. Although none of the members are actually from the Welsh capital, the band's inception comes after the group met during their university studies. Since 2006, LC have released five albums, each with specific themes and topics - their sixth album, Sick Scenes now released.  

Their first release since the 2013's No Blues, Sick Scenes follows the band's usual but unique album template of upbeat melodies mixed with melancholy and sombre lyrics. With songs entitled, 'Slow, Slow Death' and 'Hung Empty', they touch on honest topics such as mental health which make Gareth David's personal and witty words somewhat depressingly relatable. Luckily the music itself will put a smile on your face.  

Sick Scenes offers an eleven song soundtrack to the lives of anxiety-ridden millennials. Although the band continue to produce albums of similar themes, under the same structure of relatively sad narratives over upbeat pop and danceable beats, they still manage to keep it fresh and exciting - how is anybody's guess. 

Album opener, 'Renato Dall'Ara (2008)' delivers rumbles of guitar and harsh and punching vocals, the addition of frequent "oooh's" from the chorus of members break it up, offering a pop style sound. A plunge into Sick Scenes that intrigues and invites you to stay for the rest of the ride. 

With a bit of context - the album was recorded in the sunny location of Portugal during the infamously embarrassing 2016 hokey-cokey of the UK in and out of the European Union - the disgruntled lyrics make a bit more sense. David's disdain for the UK's current political climate becomes evident within his blunt songwriting, especially in the sobering acoustic number which breaks up the album as a middle track, 'The Fall of Home'. 

Minimalistic finger picking stops any foot-tapping in its tracks, with mournful lyrics concerning education budget cuts, closures of establishments and the general destruction of nostalgia within our hometown - something definitely appealing and relatable to their young lefty fanbase. 

Sick Scenes is a paradoxical musical account of a pessimist's optimism; like a hot cup of tea after retreating from the cold, harsh rain. Things are okay, but could be better. David touches on some difficult issues, but not without offering a solution or coping mechanism, whether that's taking prescription pills or focusing more on the happier, more positive, pop-y musical accompaniment.  

The well thought out lyrics and perfected produced just prove that since their last full album release six years ago, LC! have been itching to put out more material. Perhaps they awaited an opportunity to stick to their guns in writing passive aggressive songs, and the wake of Brexit certainly provided that inspiration. Regardless, their return is met with a warm welcome of open arms. 

You can see LC! live at Birmingham Hare and Hounds in May.

 

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