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Album Review: Sick Scenes by Los Campesinos!

Los Campesinos! released their sixth album Sick Scenes on 24th February (via Wichita) and as expected it’s a wonderful listen. The difficult thing about Los Campesinos! is the quandary of if they’re an Alt Dialogue suitable band, Pitchfork summarised it as “Too sugary for the emo diehards, too tart for the indie bandwagoners, too emo for the cool kids.” The strength of Sick Scenes dictated that they were.

The tenuous walk between jangly indie rock and pop punk sing-alongs is ramped up in Sick Scenes and as such you have the band’s strongest album. Three years away have done the band the world of good, Sick Scenes has an invigorating energy that’s been missing from the last few albums – it feels like you’re reconnecting with the band in their 2008 days albeit with a little more oomph.

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Sure there’s some of the bleakness of 2011’s Hello Sadness left but even with songs about depression and break ups there’s a humour and life affirming energy that can’t help but bring a smile to your face. ‘I Broke Up In Amarante’ is the first proper standout moment of the album with jangly guitars playing the perfect accompaniment to the accessible hook, before the triumphant brass section leads a frivolous air to the otherwise bleak ‘A Slow, Slow Death’. Both excellent tracks, but it’s perhaps the storytelling of Gareth David that provides the real pull, ‘The Fall Of Home’ is a whimsical tale of moving on told in such a relatable way that you can’t help but fall in love.

‘5 Flucloxacillian’ is the go to track. Brilliant both musically and lyrically it combats depression in your early 30s voiced in a way that you can’t help but relate to and smile at different times. Descriptions of a “peloton of OAPs cycling” and football supporters add delightful images to an already emotive and captivating track. Special praise must also be set out for the final minute of ‘Here’s To The Fourth Time!’ for its building tempo and explosion of blistering guitars.

‘For Whom The Belly Tolls’ pays homage to the halcyon days of indie pop. Instantaneous and forthright it’s got all the hallmarks of the very best indie pop tracks of the 00s add in the blend of emo lyrics based on the career of a one club footballer and you’ve got an instant Los Campesinos! classic. ‘Got Stendhal’s’ goes for a different tact with a slower gradual tempo leading into a brilliant guitar solo that conjures introspective emotion to complement the slightly bitter edge to the quiet moments. If that wasn’t enough emotion prepare yourself for the rollercoaster of ‘A Litany/Heart Swells’. Soaring and bulging with raw emotion form both David’s lyrics and the tender piano it’s a real enthralling listen.

Closer ‘Hung Empty’ is the epitome of indie pop at its finest and with the memories of the glory days of indie pop rock reverberating after Sick Scenes finishes you can’t help but think that this eclipses everything else in the genre.

AD Rating 9/10

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