yeah its up there
The Los Campesinos! listening club: Sleeper hits for weeping dipshits! A Los Campesinos Christmas starts at post 474!
Haven’t done much writing in this thread, but I finally got around to listening to the RIB remaster and thought I should share my thoughts.
I understand why people love this album and why for many it’s the band’s high point, but honestly, it doesn’t quite click for me. I think the one-two punch of Letters from me to Charlotte and The Sea is… is probably their greatest moment as a band and as song writers, but too much of the album is messy, noisy or annoying. Plan A is probably my most disliked LC track, an insta-skip, every time. The singles are fine but don’t excite me. It’s a good album (all their albums are good), but a flawed one.
They’re certainly absolutely bonkers on my phone, but I always quite liked the little internal references across their titles - Documented Minor Emotional Breakdowns and Heart Swells, etc
So i listened to ‘RiB’ in full for the first time in years at the gym yesterday. So good.
Started doing a track by track thing in the notes on my phone but got bored pretty quickly.
Some ‘highlights’ from that though:
- The album is obsessed with bodily fluids - the vomit in your gullet, sweating off the cheat notes on your thighs, piss-soaked jeans (probably more) - and that in itself tells us this is a new era for the band. It’s not a ‘sexy’ album by any means but it’s all about sex, and no longer cloaked behind cutesy metaphors like it was in the ‘HON,Y’ era.
- ‘There Are Listed Buildings’ is a properly good single that could have slipped onto the XFM/6Music A-list at the time if it had the right push. It would have been an outlier but it could have done it, I reckon. Although I think, in 2009/2010, the conventional indie guitar band (which LC! are, at their core) which Pitchfork had been pushing for most of the 2000s was kind of being edged out by the more psychy, cerebreal stuff coming out of North America at the time - Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Yeasayer, MGMT - so maybe the album was just out at the wrong time.
- It does feel like a kind of last chance saloon for the band’s commercial hopes. They throw everything and the kitchen sink at it, so you do get that sense of messiness and whiplash as they go between songs as disparate as ‘Plan A’ and ‘Who Fell Asleep In’. I have this album as a 2x LP but I don’t know if it was ever explicitly marketed as a ‘double’ album. It made sense to have it divided into 4 sections though and kind of broke down the chaos into more managable thematic chunks.
- ‘The Sea Is…’ blew my mind when they released it as the lead (?) single. Honestly, such a step up from anything they’d ever done before just in terms of its maturity (sigh).
- There’s loads of great little moments - the gasp for breath that Gareth does right at the end of the title track aftet the music stops stands out now but there’s loads.
- ‘There Is A Flag’ is fine but it just comes at the wrong time. ‘The Sea Is…’ into ‘Coda:’, boom, job’s a good’un.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
Have been listening along in parallel to this without properly posting, the first 3 records are all fantastic and I have a lot of love for them all - some rushed summary thoughts
HONY - came out at the perfect time for me and what I wanted to hear at the time. It’s impossible to separate the nostalgia from how I feel about it but I still think it stands up brilliantly and is still so much fun to listen to. Some lyrics yes are a little cringe now but on the whole I still love the OTT nature of them and the whole mood of the album - a brilliant, brilliant debut
Ps. I really like the album artwork and won’t have a bad word said against it!
WABWAD - stands up much more as a collective piece of work than I remembered, and is beautifully concise. It’s (relative to what came before and after) slightly more subtle (perhaps the wrong word) and feels like a slight maturing of their sound. The title track and ‘fingers for crossing’ are all timers
RIB - more perhaps to follow on this one but yeh, count me in for the ‘I think this is their best album’ club on this one. It’s fantastic - slightly
more raucous and harder hitting in places than what came before. I agree with points above that they clearly went all out on this one - you can feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into it and it feels like it’s on the brink of falling apart at any moment in the best possible way
another twofer today, first we have Hello Sadness
and then Whole Damn Body which is a compilation of the singles released as part of the Heat Rash zine from between RiB and HS (except for Tiptoe Through the True Bits which was a download from their website iirc?)
slow start on this one eh? definitely the album i return to least, as much as By Your Hand and the title track are some of their strongest songs, i feel like the rest of the album is some of their weakest stuff? idk, i know it’s a lot of people’s favourite but it feels very much like a transitional album for the band, like the songwriting is less confident or something
Gotta listen to this alongside that second Slow Club for maximum misery.
My initial response is to say I really like this one but I’m also aware it came out just after I uprooted my entire life to move to the other end of the country and my then-partner took a job abroad and ended our relationship. So I’m not really sure it could’ve come at a better time tbqh.
That said “by your hand / is the only end I foresee” is quite an opening line for an album, even for a band who pretty much only have amazing opening lines. You know what you’re getting and they definitely deliver on that. I just think overall I prefer black humour misery Los Camp to actual gut wrenching misery Los Camp.
oooohhh is this around the time that gareth and rebecca split up? i assumed it was earlier than this, dunno why
Yeah, pretty sure. I don’t have either to check but I think you can find photos of them on both album sleeves somewhere.
Can I just say that this might be one of the most intrinsically linked album art =/= sound of album for me ever
that’s interesting, i don’t think it’s great artwork personally, it’s certainly the least memorable of all their albums. i actually had to check to see what it was, i think i associate this album with the Hello Sadness t shirt i had with the two hands and the lighter
IIRC it was released in the autumn / winter (just checked: it was mid November) and I would listen to it pretty much on repeat for a few months around that time. Otherwise it might be a bit on the nose to feel that way about the cover given ‘To Tundra’ is on the record but I always associate it with a much bleaker direction, lyrically and musically. ‘…Death Rattle’ and ‘Light Leaves, Dark Sees’ as well.
Gonna listen to WDB again in a bit so will come back to that but Hello Sadness is my second favourite LC! record after the debut. A study of what it’s like to be both incredibly depressed and incredibly horny imo, that’s probably why it massively clicked for me at the time it came out. If the title track had been released in 2004-6 they’d have been huge, it’s got that propulsive energy rising to a big singalong-style ending that we fucking loved back then. The only skipper for me is Hate For The Island, just a bit boring compared to the rest. Also +1 point for By Your Hand getting another doe eyes reference in.
Listening back to this. It really really is a miserable record but actually, yeah, it’s pretty great.
Hate for the Island and To Tundra are both a bit of a slog, but that run of the first three tracks are some of their best pop songs, musically there’s some of their most interesting and confident work imo (The Black Bird, the Dark Slope ), and Baby I Got the Death Rattle is just incredible - the tempo changes from the opening, the drop out before the final charge (“I’m seriously, so listen”), the way the lyrics swing between absolute cringe and unfettered misery - which is what a breakup is in retrospect. It just all works so well.
I’m with @Funkhouser on this, my second favourite album of theirs.
I pretty much got off the Los Camp train after this. Someone described RiB as being their last push at being a commercial band, which I I think is fair. With this they’d settled into their role as an important band, with the downside that after this the gaps between records got longer (and then even longer). I don’t think the stuff that came after was ever as important to me in the same way as this was. But also I don’t know if I’d have wanted it to be.
I agree until last minute or so which is really good.
Never really listened to this at the time when it came out, don’t know why.
Coming to it later on there are some of their best songs on this, and also some of their weakest.
I listened to this a lot when it came out. In a way it definitely feels “de-fanged” compared to the previous albums, but I feel weird saying that because I love this album a lot and some of the songs on there are all-timers for me. I would maybe be tempted to compare it to something like The Moon and Antarctica by Modest Mouse (and, looking at the cover artwork, it wouldn’t surprise me if that album was a reference point) particularly with that very wintry sort of melancholy that’s all over the album.
Love it. Listening to it in context of the club, it felt a bit more like the start of a second phase to me - the albums since feel more like they’re refining what they do here more than hearkening back to anything pre-Romance is Boring.
Oh! Just remembered another thing that came to mind when I listened to this – this album feels a LOT like the post-reunion Suede albums to me. I’d never really thought of them comparatively before. Superficially I feel like the vocals are similar and the approach to drama, but maybe more than anything it’s the sense of being maybe more understated in some ways than their former selves but also doing the strongest possible version of that. A lot of the time, a “more mature sound” can just mean a band gets boring - but that’s not the case here. It’s “more mature” but also no less compelling and no less characterful
the listening club, I mean ofc
reading that back gave a very funny image of sipping my gin and juice while listening to ‘Hate for the Island’ in the VIP area
as I often do of a Saturday