It seems like just about every year there's one or two indie rock/pop albums that catch my ear and have me singing along with them at full volume (often on the way to the grocery store or whatever). In past years, The Thermals have been my go-to band when it comes to this sort of thing, but it seems that 2008 might find me singing along with Los Campesinos. Hold On Now, Youngster... is the debut full length from this seven-piece band and they're every bit the loud, sloppy, noisy racket you might expect from such a large outfit.
Oh yeah, and it's produced by Dave Newfeld of Broken Social Scene, much in the same over-the-top manner as their last self-titled release. It's easy to throw out slews of adjectives when listening to a group like Los Campesinos and I'd say that everything from brash to precious to frustrating all apply (along with the aforementioned ones). It's certainly hard to deny the screaming shout-out that opens "Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats," and the track appropriately spirals into a sort of delirious synth/guitar rumbler that features call/response vocals, handclaps, and even a quiet string coda. Oh yeah, and it clocks in at three and a half minutes. They're also the kind of group who will title a song "This Is How You Spell, "HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics," and although it's certainly a bit tongue-in-cheek, the dizzying melodies, boy/girl vocals, string flourishes, and constant random bits sometimes wear just a bit over the course of the forty-three minute album.
And really, one has to listen no further than "You! Me! Dancing!" (yes, they're also fond of exclamation points) to hear all that is both good and bad with the group. After an extended intro (that drags on for quite some time and sucks some life out of the release), the group launches into a hyper-fun song that mixes their usual massive instrumental onslaught with glockenspiel, strings, synths, guitars, overdriven multi-part vocals, and cracking drums. It's the sort of album that at times sounds like the group simply threw everything against the wall and hoped that something would stick. In many cases, it did, but in others it sounds like a raucous mess. There's a lot of promise here (and some insanely fun moments that I'll keep going back to), but here's hoping the group hones their sound a bit more for album number two.