April 24, 2008

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Los Campesinos, Hold On Now Youngster
Arts & Crafts Records, April 1
I swore off hipsters bearing glockenspiels after hearing the last hundred albums out of Brooklyn, but this well-mannered scrum of instrumentalists is under the impression that people might dance stupid dances at clubs sometime again before the world blows up, so here goes. They’re British and silly, so there’s that pogo-numskull Art Brut element; they’re on Arts & Crafts Records, the home of Broken Social Scene, so there are violins and things called “melody horns”; and they like punk, so they’re the Buzzcocks at times. In all, this is like Arctic Monkeys gone Canada-indie with less range — nearly all the songs have identical syncopation and little change in melody, but music per se appears to be of secondary importance.

But that’s part of the good news, let’s face it, especially when you put this up against all the alt-rock po-faces who don’t realize that dancing in clubs requires adamant 4/4 time and revocation of most artistic licenses. “You! Me! Dancing!” makes fine use of the old ’80s-dance stutter-beat while their Art Brut guy singer and Lily Allen girl singer privately come to terms with the fact that neither can dance a single step. A bit less catchy but no less frantic is the Soft-Cell-on-caffeine-like “Death to Los Campesinos.” “And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes in Unison” is a brazen nick of Arcade Fire. B+ Eric W. Saeger