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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 2/27/17

    Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes (Wichita)

    With their sixth album Sick ScenesLos Campensinos! chose to turn back the clock to 2006…but not as their younger pixie-pop selves. The mid-aughts saw Brit-Pop's second coming; heralded by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, and Maximo Park. At that time, critics labeled Los Campensinos! as "twee," a genre that they have been battling to escape from since. Scenes helps move them even further away, closer to bands like The Wombats rather than Belle & Sebastian. They now ooze snotty Brit-Pop with smooth keyboard hooks on "For Whom the Belly Tolls," overt nasally vocals on "Hung Empty," and heavy, driving percussion on "Sad Suppers."

    Singer Gareth David has said that he writes about what he knows and experiences, and feels redeemed when fans can relate constructively. On Scenes, he allows the listener to join in his misery of self-medication, mental illness, dissolving memories, questionable self-worth, and perhaps worst of all, "a largely terrible international football tournament," when England lost to Iceland in the Euro 2016. That sadness combined with the feeling of helplessness inspired the emo-ish lead single "I Broke Up Amarante." Although some of the lyrics are specific to the match, other lyrics, like "Nursed a two-beer buzz four whole weeks / 'Cause it's the only way to feel sane" can translate universally.

    For an album full of depressive lyrics, you wouldn't get that impression from the music. The dark experiences are sung in anthemic, chipper melodies. Just listen to the joy in David's voice as he sings, "All these / sick scenes / played out in my memory" on "Here's to the Fourth Time!" The band explained that the album is "also a celebration of just getting to be a band, of getting to play music with our friends." The playful chorus of "oooo"'s that explode as the album begins to spin sets an upbeat, excitable tone. Scenes then gets right to business, tucking its metaphorical head down, sprinting through the second two peppy tracks. By the end of the album, the goal is made clear: cathartic enrichment via grim experiences set to energetic, chant-worthy melodies. March 8th will give you the chance to sing along with their life-affirming mantras, when they headline a superb bill with opener Crying at The TLA.

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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