Los Campesinos!

Hold on Now, Youngster...

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Every now and then the title of an album is a perfect embodiment of the music found within. Los Campesinos! are dead right calling their album Hold on Now, Youngster..., because from the first track on, the album is a thrilling madcap whirlwind of sound, words, and voices that by the end leaves you feeling like you've been engulfed in an indie pop-driven hurricane. The members of the Welsh seven-piece are hyper-literate, hilarious, and know their way around a hook as they pile through the 11 songs on the album like they are on a breakaway heading for the goal. Words tumble out in jumbles, the lead voices (Gareth with his high-pitched whine, Aleksandra with her sweet kid tones) trade off lines and sass each other, and the instruments (guitars, bells, keys, violins) whip up a joyful mess, while the drums try mightily to pin it all down. Bands with less grasp on dynamics and timing and a less sympathetic producer than Broken Social Scene's producer Dave Newfeld might have ended up with a real mess of a record on their hands. Instead, Los Campesinos! have a ringing success here: a combination of punk rock energy, indie pop wit and emotion, indie rock experimentation, and the raw feel of classic garage bands throughout the ages. The bands they bring to mind at different points of the record are the kind of groups whose songs could tear your heart out with a sudden dynamic burst, a cutting lyric, or a singalong chorus, bands like Huggy Bear, Comet Gain, Heavenly, and the early Pastels. It's no stretch to include Los Campesinos! in this select group or to favorably rate their best songs, like the indie disco fave "You! Me! Dancing!"with its raging glockenspiels, huge chorus, and snarky lyrics; the hard-driving "Don't Tell Me to Do the Math(s)," which features Aleksandra's best vocals; or the simply heart-stoppingly good "Death to Los Campesinos!," which sports the kind of hook that'll be stuck in your head for days. And you'll be thwarted if you try to find a weak spot or a duff moment on Hold on Now, Youngster.... The only possible problem is that people who need ballads to give them a breather between the squalls of noise and emotion will find them totally absent. They can go listen to a Shins album and leave the debut album of Los Campesinos! to lovers of wildness, unrestrained but thoughtful emotion, and careening songs that leave a mark when they hit you. Recommending this album seems too light a course of action; requiring it may be more apt. Consider Hold on Now, Youngster... highly required, then.

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