The Los Campesinos! listening club: Sleeper hits for weeping dipshits! A Los Campesinos Christmas starts at post 474!

YES! Been looking forward to us reaching this point, not least of all because it might see @plasticniki giving the album a listen at last!

Thought today might be the day, so listened a couple of times on the way to and from work. I came away with two surprising observations, which I will recount in a moment. First up, though: I absolutely love this album. And I got into it from the get go. There’s something a bit unusual about that, insofar as just about every other release I managed to find a way to be disappointed and not give it a chance outside of the two or so songs that immediately appealed to me. Even with HONY, I managed to not really listen to it properly until after RIB, because I initially decided I didn’t like the production/mastering.

But with Sick Scenes, I think I’d finally given up expecting/hoping for an album full of myspace demos. With expectations lowered to the same levels I’d have approaching run-of-the-mill bands, I got the chance to be surprised and delighted by Amarante, and this response continued when, the album having come out, Renato and Sad Suppers continued to delight. With these three tracks LC had recaptured not so much the sound or style of HONY, but the excitement and energy of that era. Intensified it, even.

They got me excited enough to want to enjoy the whole album, which is no doubt why I didn’t let Slow, Slow Death put me off, despite my general distaste for horns, and it’s also why I didn’t immediately write off Fall of Home for its borderline classical guitar pluckfest. I love both of these tracks now, btw, and I think the horns on Slow, Slow Death are possibly just about the best ever use of brass in all of rock’n’roll history. And after these two, the big grin singalongs crank up again, followed by the sublime Stendhal’s — I think this is the song where I first started seeing in LC a lot of the song writing and composition of the late Cure.

Basically, I loved this album and I still do. It was easily my most listened to album of 2017, and it is the main reason why I have periodically, once or twice a year since then, felt compelled to do an LC discography run. (I had, in fact, just finished one only two or three weeks before this listening club started. Amazing that I’m not burnt out!)

So, observation No.1: I was surprised by how much I felt the thrill of listening to the album again today. That’s maybe not that surprising after what I’ve just written, but I figured having listened to it so many times, the fluttering in the stomach might have eased.

Observation No.2: Sick Scenes is not really the pinnacle of the climb they set out on with Hello Sadness and then No Blues. Across the course of this listening club, I had been developing that hypothesis, and fully expected to hear in Sick Scenes a kind of perfection of No Blues. But listening today in that context, Sick Scenes comes off as different again. What it makes of HS and NB is maybe that Cure-ish composition, but with a slight return to the early days. It’s definitely more upbeat and singalong. I find myself whistling melody lines and guitar licks as I’m walking to work (through largely unpopulated streets, thankfully!)

I am very interested to hear what others make of it, since I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else rate it as highly as I do. I can see fans of WABWAD, HS and NB thinking it’s a bit of a dip in form, but, my goodness, I really do love this album.

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The album that has the Los Campesinos! song that personally means the most to me lyrically

The chorus for I Broke Up in Amarante was the only way I could truly explain my depression to my wife after many years of trying, sitting and listening to that song together after it was released was a really important moment in our relationship and has made us much stronger as a couple since that night.

Renato and Fall of Home (reminds me of growing up in Southport) are also favourites

Hope this album gets the love it deserves

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this is interesting as i do see it as a refinement of what they did on HS and NB, it’s easily my favourite after RiB, which is one of my favourite ever. there’s not a bad song on here, there’s not even a weak song i don’t think, it’s just that the highs don’t quite hit the peaks that RiB does :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

this makes a lot of sense, it’s such a great chorus, especially on top of the fact that it fucks SO HARD even before it gets to it. and that bridge, good lord :heart_eyes:

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I love Sick Scenes. It was so exciting hearing the debut of (I think) I Broke Up In Amarante and A Slow Slow Death at the Us Vs Them all dayer at the Brudenell. Strong memories of 5 Flucloxacillin being released as a single and being so excited that every single thing we’d heard from the album was a banger, and they still kept the best ones (Here’s To The Forth Time and Got Stendhal’s) back for the full album release. To me this sounds like the biggest jump in sound between albums, they change a lot with each one, but to me it sounds like there’s quite a clear through line from one to the next. With this one it feels like a total deviation from No Blues, which was melodic and synthy and hazy and had quite flowery lyrics. Sick Scenes feels immediately punchier and more guitar heavy, everything sounds more lo-fi, more punk, the lyrics more direct and the vocals are more sharp and shouty. It all really works!

“31 and depression is a young man’s game” is the bit that really sums the album for me now, but it took a while for me to get it, I think. I was 25 when the album came out, and I did love it back then, and I felt like 31 wasn’t really much older than I was. I’m 31 now and my perspective is so different to when I was 25. I think now I really share (or project lmao) the sense of being very over all the being in your own head and wallowing on the earlier albums, and just feeling exhausted and wanting to focus on what matters. Like yeah the lyrics are still very self involved, but a lot less than on the other albums, there’s a lot more focus on the external than there was before. Also I know nothing about Gareth’s personal circumstances, but I think that this album is the first album he’s written while being in a long term stable relationship?

I like that it ends on “But what if this is it now? What if this is how we die?”

I hope the next album is anything like as good as this one :crossed_fingers:

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I remember deciding Sick Scenes was their best since Romance is Boring pretty quickly after it released. It’s definitely one of their most consistent and also it has my favourite artwork they’ve done.

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  • i was there!
  • i was not there :frowning:
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I was at the Cardiff warm-up show though

Really pleased to read this and hope you’re doing well!

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reckon this has my faovuirte opening of any of their albums - lyrics, punchy drums, woos, all of it

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THESE SMALL STEPS DOWN A STEEP SLOPE
EXIST AS LIVING PROOF
NOT RIGHT TO CALL THIS OLD AGE
BUT IT CERTAINLY AIN’T YOUTH

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At least when
We’re encased
In concrete
We’ll be safe

Such a festive album to listen to at Christmas time

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Completely agree that there’s not even a weak song, but at the same time — almost because it is all so exceptionally good — none of them stand out as reaching the heights of RiB. So it’s definitely a step up on HS/NB, and I’d probably add that it’s a refinement on those albums in the sense of the production being absolutely top notch. NB sounded a much more polished affair than anything they’d done before, but SS takes it to another level.

But in terms of the mood, if you like, and the songwriting, SS feels much more like RiB than NB, while still being something different even from RiB. That’s what I was trying to get at with that observation. @Konichiwa_Bitches captured it pretty well…

…though I’m not sure I’m hearing the lo-fi. As I say, to me the production is super polished. I’d add that where the songs on HONY/RiB and even the second two thirds of HS often seem to have this sense of restrained chaos — really tight but also feels like things could fall apart any second, or there was a lot of wrangling involved to make sure every bit came in when it was supposed to — the songs on SS seem to me much more … law-abiding (ending to Fourth Time, aside). E.g. has Gareth’s lyrics/singing ever conformed so unwaveringly to a strict metre and rhyming scheme as the verses in A Slow, Slow Death?

More generally, I’m really pleased to hear so many rating this album so highly. My memory was of it not making many people’s top 5 for the year, so I just assumed that I was along in absolutely loving it.

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NEVER ONCE A MISER WITH THE MISERY
CLEVER COMPROMISE, I REPLANT POTTED HISTORY

Really like this review I just stumbled across:

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Bloody love this album. Along with Hello Sadness it’s the one I reach for most often. It’s so varied and interesting, while keeping the energy up all the way through. Don’t think there’s a bad song on it. Getting to my mid thirties it’s the album that speaks to me most as well, especially ‘depression is a young man’s game’. It’s an album about getting older and dealing with the same shit.

Scattered highlights: the part in I broke up In Amarante where Gareth gives up and asks everyone else to help out., the brass on slow slow death, ending the album with Hung Empty. The fall of Home really resonates with me as well, as I moved home in 2017 for a few months.

“a peloton of OAPs drifting up behind me, saying move it sonny we got places to be”

Yeah this album is great.

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As someone in my… mid thirties, SS is the one that definitely resonates the most with me now. It’s a wonderful thing, to feel like I’ve grown up with a band, soundtracking my life in many ways, and I do selfishly hope they make a new album soon about changing nappies and selecting primary schools.

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I love that Here’s to the Fourth Time basically has a breakdown in it

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just looking up lyrics and looking at them properly:

Some days I struggle to move
In elephant shoes, unwilling commuter
Anxiety in my chest, heart under duress
Taps out of sharpshooter
Preoccupied now for days by nostalgia waves
I hated the first time
A gambler’s fallacy: the more I repeat
I won’t be the punchline

Love how they can have a searingly honest verse about MH and self-reflection, and just randomly throw in a Bret The Hitman Hart wrestling reference from about 1994 in there, without it seeming incongruous - I’d never noticed it before.

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Which song is this?