LOS CAMPESINOS — “Sick Scenes”
THE GOOD: Welsh indie rockers Los Campesinos regroup and release their sixth.
THE BAD: No Los album is a masterpiece. Every collection comes with both violent bits of youthful exuberance and misguided self-indulgent passages. Recorded in Portugal with long-time collaborator John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead), “Sick Scenes” follows that pattern.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Fans also have to come to grips with the fact that lyricist Gareth David and all the wild kids next door are getting older and their songs are maturing. The contemplative “The Fall of Home,” with its bouts of insecurity and loneliness, would have felt out of place on 2008’s blistering “Hold on Now, Youngster.”
Thankfully, “Scenes” is not an entirely calm affair — far from it. Tracks such as the stomping “Sad Suppers” and the jittery “5 Flucloxacillin” still rip up the room while David spits out his usual lyrical vitriol. Just be prepared for some more ambitious arrangements and experimentation across the album’s second half. You have to at least pretend to grow up sometime.
BUY IT?: Yeah.
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH — “The Tourist”
THE GOOD: Philadelphia-based indie rockers Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (now a “brand” as opposed to an actual band) come back with a focused fifth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: After years of members jumping ship, the only man left standing is singer/songwriter/brains-behind-the-operation Alec Ounsworth. But that’s not a bad thing, for “Tourist” is easily his most satisfying set of songs in a decade.
Producing music light years away from the disco-fied goofiness of “Satan Said Dance,” Ounsworth now brings a new intensity to the table by injecting some personal trauma into the work. The drama adds danger, yet “Tourist” finds the man coming out the other end relatively unscathed.
Long-time collaborator Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) adds some sonic meat to the mix as well. The end result is rich and serious with solid melodies to boot, thanks to tracks such as “Better Off” and “The Vanity of Trying” even resembling some of Radiohead’s more infectious moments.
BUY IT?: Yes.
COLD WAR KIDS — “L.A. Divine”
THE GOOD: California indie rockers Cold War Kids come back with their sixth.
THE BAD: Same as above
THE NITTY GRITTY: It’s easy to write reviews about records that are either amazing or dreadful. The toughest reviews are ones about records that are just “there.” That mundane description pretty much sums up the entire CWK catalog. None of their albums are outright terrible. The band’s jittery mix of rock and indie pop with a smattering of soul isn’t all that disagreeable.
Frontman Nathan Willett and his crew have even come up with a few semi-cool gems along the way. There was the group’s debut underground hit “Hang Me Out To Dry,” followed by all those variations of … “Hang Me Out To Dry.”
“L.A. Divine” is the boys’ sixth set, but it may as well be their second or their fourth. If you like these guys, by all means, indulge. If you don’t, the new album won’t change any established opinions.
BUY IT?: Whatever. I’m bored.