Los Campesinos! is well-received and recognizable when it comes to the British emo scene.. A direct participant of the third wave, LC! has managed to cultivate their own sound independent of the third or fourth wave emo sounds we traditionally think of when looking at emo between the early 2000s and now. With their October 30th release, NO BLUES, LC! manages to continue their sound, one that has existed since the mid-2000s, without overstaying their welcome, keeping everything just fresh enough to have listeners while maintaining their classic sound.

              The best song on this album is almost definitely “For Flotsam.” Gareth Paisley, the vocalist, continues his iconic voice while backed by incredible production for the band. The almost-choral sound of former LC! albums continue through this song, but the rhythms are particularly enjoyable. The vocal section around 1:20 is one of my favorite lyrical sections of a LC! song, dealing with the difficulty of treating mental health issues with alcohol. The following lines incorporate the French language, British politics, and the storied love life of the narrator. This song feels like it was made to pitch LC! Every element of this song I’ve heard before, but this arrangement is incredible.

              The next song that really struck my ear was “Cemetery Gaits.” This song is nearly five minutes long, incorporating the same voice and instrumental concepts seen in other songs on this album, but the heavily produced rhythm underneath and the relatively consistent drum beat pulls a lot of weight here. When websites label LC! as an “indie pop” band, this is the song I’m most likely to think of. The chorus feels like it would belong in many of the different hits of the last two decades.

              “The Time Before” might incorporate too many of those choral elements. While it makes sense placed within the grander project of NO BLUES, the song feels hymnal, even Paisley’s iconic vocals are put on the backburner and only really heard in the second half of the song.

              “Selling Rope (Swan Dive to Estuary)” is the last song on the album, coming in at over six minutes. If you have read my previous reviews, you might know that I do not love long songs in an album of primarily 2–4-minute songs. As an outro song, it’s almost expected that it’ll be longer, but it’s still not something I always love. The lyrics play into the classically odd style of LC! written almost more like a poem or piece of interpretive prose rather than an emo song. The lyrics here obfuscate the real meaning, the accompanying vocals and incredibly dynamic range of the music behind the vocals helping to hide the ultimately emotional nature of Los Campesinos! About four minutes in, there is an instrumental section full of odd sounds and screeching records yet still maintains the basic drum beat present throughout the song. The last two minutes of this song are ultimately not too impressive, with the one-minute-long interlude only really ruining the pacing and making this song about a minute longer than it needs to be.

              Ultimately, NO BLUES is fine. If you like Los Campesinos!’ sound, you will like this album. There are a couple songs here that shine out, but pretty much everything I didn’t mention in this review just sounds the way every other Los Campesinos! song sounds, with many outright unremarkable. Despite that, there are great songs here, particularly “For Flotsam” and “Cemetery Gaits.” If you hear Paisley’s voice and decide you don’t like it, I recommend you drop the album there. Beyond that, this album is solid, maybe a bit above average, but in the grand review of Los Campesinos!, it’s an average project at best.

Photo Credits from: Wichita

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