Albums round-up: Los Campesinos!, Gringo Star, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Published on November 4th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Los Campesinos! have a new album out, as do Gringo Star and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., so you’ll excuse us for coming over a little ’round-uppy’…
Los Campesinos! – No Blues
It’s hard to begrudge Los Campesinos! their cult following, but fifth album No Blues pretty much serves to confirm that they’ll never change their songwriting spots.
Their melodic limitations become more overbearing with each passing record, Gareth Paisey’s undeniably entertaining lyrics hamstrung by a relentless tonality that this time feels uncomfortably reconcilable with Snow Patrol, Biffy Clyro or some such imagination vacuum.
Opener “For Flotsam” even has a breakdown section centered around group-singing of the chorus, as if overly studied or borne of an idle studio suggestion. Some might call it pastiche, but if it still winds up sounding fit for Scrubs-soundtracking then what’s the point?
Even the reference in “What Death Leaves Behind” to former Middlesbrough forward Joseph-Désiré Job can’t save this one. And that’s saying something.
Sorry, Los Campesinos! fans…we just don’t get it.
No Blues is out now on Turnstile.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!
Gringo Star – Floating Out to See
Their “Shadow” single from previous album Count Yer Lucky Stars remains one of our favourites of the last few years, so we’d hoped it would provide something of a blueprint for future endeavours. Well, it’s the future now, and to our ears Gringo Star still haven’t quite turned up anything to match it.
That the vocals here are mostly muddied to the point of incomprehensible feels like a shame, as some of the more straightforward songs like “Satisfy My Mind” and “Peep Hole” could use the lyrical embellishment, albeit the orbit of hazy sound effects is a relatively decent trade-off.
“Lovesick” sounds suitably swooning and addled, but it still sounds like Gringo Star aren’t making the most of the quality odd-pop instincts that distinguished “Shadow”.
Floating Out to See is out now on My Anxious Mouth.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – The Speed of Things
We were looking forward to hearing this one ever since stumbling across “Dark Water” in a recent singles round-up and reviewing it in the following terms:
“It’s delightful, sweet ‘n’ psych-tinged with a tangential streak that bodes well for a full album’s worth of listening. Threatens to overload the cutesiness with whistling, glockenspiel and all manner of tweeness, but has the melodic sensibility and genuine heart to pull it off.”
Alas, “Dark Water” proves to be more of a stand-out than an indicator. Not that the remainder of The Speed of Things is trash: “Beautiful Dream” is like Fruit Bats hitching a ride on an ’80s pop wagon, sublimely melodic and underscored with eccentricity, while there’s a touch of early-noughties Flaming Lips about the likes of “Knock Louder”.
Though promising initially, the bittersweet-sunset-nostalgia-set-to-big-clappy-retro-beats formula becomes all too pervasive. Still, worth it for the odd flash of inspiration like the pangs of vintage rainbow synths that illuminate “Mesopotania” and the quite beautiful little riff with which “Gloria” resolves.
And “Don’t Tell Me” reminds us of ELO. That’s usually a good thing.
The Speed of Things is out now on Warner Bros.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!