If one were to come up with a description of Los Campesinos!, it might be the very oxymoronic term “hardcore twee.” Much like Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire, this Welsh outfit is enamored with a kitchen-sink approach to instrumentation that’s only surpassed by the almost manic abandon with which the members attack their instruments. Guitars, violin, chimes, glockenspiel, and an array of percussion clash together in a controlled clatter that comes off sounding like the Go! Team and Dexys Midnight Runners getting tossed into a closet and force-fed vintage Buzzcocks and Bruce Springsteen circa The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.
An intriguing vocal contrast adds to the fun thanks to the nasally squawk of Gareth and the sweeter, feminine phrasing of Aleks (both of who share the Campesino surname with their bandmates à la the Ramones). The torrent of topics Los Campesinos! leap on and off benefit from the wide-eyed insecurity and optimism expected by college students barely out of Cardiff University. Amid punky riffs, woo-woo harmonies, and runaway chimes of the irresistible “You! Me! Dancing!,” there’s the painfully shy dweeb working up the courage to make a move on his romantic quarry. Elsewhere, nerdy allusions to the Internet, Spiderman, and Jane Eyre are spat out amid the galloping tempos and off-key call-and-response count off of “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats.”
Always sounding as if it’s on the brink of collapse, this indie-pop septet manages to rein itself in at the last moment. While the relentless onslaught of enthusiasm and vigor threatens to be overwhelming at times, Los Campesinos!’s irony-free earnestness makes for quite an invigorating listening experience. (Arts & Crafts)