Friday, 2 December 2011
Album Reviews: Los Campesinos! / Wild Flag / Future of the Left / Dum Dum Girls
Four albums in as many years is impressive no matter how you look at it. The fact that Los Camp! are yet to put a step out of place gives them bragging rights as one of the best bands in the country. The straightforward pop of 'By Your Hand' is easily their catchiest number yet and the title track ranks up their with their most powerful, emotive moments. Initial listens suggest a dip in the middle, but these songs come into their own after a few listens, with 'The Black Bird, The Dark Slope' being a particular highlight. It's safe to say that they're tighter and more guitar focused than ever, but they're still Los Campesinos!
Although standing up very well to repeated listens, it's still lead track 'Romance' that's the most memorable moment. It's something of a surprise, given the pedigree of the women involved, how conventional many of the tracks on Wild Flag sound, with tracks such as 'Boom' being just ace little rock numbers. The musicianship is ace (check out the drumming on 'Electric Band') the tunes are awesome and it's played to have a sonic impact. There's much worse that'll appear on end of year lists this year.
It's always good to have Future of the Left around. Not only is their spiky rock an antidote to everything that we're force-fed, but the very presence of Falco means that there's someone out there who's not afraid to hold us all to account. The new line-up means that there's more keyboards than we heard from the band on Curses, with the title track being closest to 'Manchasm' than anything else in their repertoire. 'My Wife Is Unhappy' is enjoyably menacing, whilst 'With Apologies To Emily Pankhurst' bridges the void between FotL and mclusky.
With many of the songs on Only In Dreams being so classic sounding, as to be almost familiar, it's easy to take the album for granted. We shouldn't however, as it's one of the real surprises of the year. A mile away from their fuzzy lo-fi debut this is luscious and stunningly crafted. 'Bedroom Eyes' is one of my personal songs of the year and lyrics from both 'Heartbeat' and 'In My Head' deeply resonate. That's before we even get to the swirling late-night feel of 'Coming Down'. Simply excellent.