Los Campesinos! do what they do best on new album, Sick Scenes.Wichita Recordings, 2017
7.3 / 10
With Sick Scenes, Los Campesinos! reach an impressive milestone of six records. Impressive because so many indie bands, especially ones with seven members, typically don’t make it this far. By now, the band should just have four members. Or frontman Gareth David should have a burgeoning solo career. Or Sick Scenes should just be a stale reminder that Los Campesinos! need to call it quits already. Nope. Sick Scenes is another strong record from the band. Before Sick Scenes, Los Campesinos! considered NO BLUES their best record; although, they barely got to spend any time with it. With Sick Scenes, they want to do it “properly,” meaning touring it.
Although Sick Scenes is not a game changer in indie music or even Los Campesinos!’s catalog, it needs to be in front of a live audience. The songs provide many opportunities for crowd sing-alongs. And Los Campesinos! is probably the only band that could make a chorus, “I’m shouting out a litany/ An echo calls back,” actually work as something enthralling. The downtime between NO BLUES and Sick Scenes certainly helps. Los Campesinos!’s brand of witty, somewhat loquacious lyrics feel fresh as ever. Gareth David does his damnedest to get them out as a vein in his forehead likely screams to tear through. His and the band’s energy is reminiscent of emo bands of the early oughts.
Considering the fervor behind those bands during their heyday, Los Campesinos! songs push for similar fanaticism. The album’s eleven songs instantly burrow into the brain. The band barely lets off the gas pedal during Sick Scenes‘ runtime. However, the album’s somewhat slower, somber tinged songs like “A Slow, Slow Death” and “The Fall of Home” are certainly welcome. The band hasn’t lost its sense of humor either as evident by a song titled “For Whom The Belly Tolls”. Still, any tongue-in-cheek lyricism is balanced by solemnity. Gareth sings, “It seems unfair/ To try your best but feel the worst,” on “I Broke Up in Amarante”. In this case, Los Campesinos! should feel pretty good with the album they’ve made.