The UK’s self-described “first and only emo band” Los Campesinos! have returned with the surprise release Whole Damn Body.
Seven tracks of high energy no bullshit rock and roll, Whole Damn Body excites as much as it exalts itself, and for good reason, because this EP shows the band at their wittiest, catchiest, and thoughtful best.
Recorded during the sessions for their fourth studio album Hello Sadness, what should be a collection of tossed-off outtakes instead takes the form of a shotgun blast right to the solar plexus, attacking you with titanic cymbal crashes, joyously fuzzy guitars, and sweetly melodic sing-along choruses that always retain the aggressive edge of a band that, despite their own description, don’t easily fall into any one genre.
From the opening strums of ‘Allez Lus Blues’ to the last twinkling notes of ‘Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. I’, Whole Damn Body barely give you time to breath, much less take in all that’s happening on the relatively short run time. But upon further listens, a whole world of bizarre characters opens itself up: the “weeping dipshits turning tricks for cheap kicks” on ‘She Crows (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #4)’, the “darling baby… punished with an ugly face” in ‘Dumb Luck’, the “skeleton that’s trembling on the ground” in ‘To The Boneyard’. The imagery conjured up takes detours through the surreal and grotesque, but they’re never there for shock value. Instead, they act as cyphers for the most deep-seated and personal kinds of experiences: break-ups, growing up, leaving town, and changing.
If you’re a fan of Iron Chic or Fucked Up but wished those bands had an ever so slightly lighter music edge without sacrificing any of the lyrical intensity or potency, I can’t recommend Los Campesinos enough. In their decade-plus career, they’ve collected a formidable discography that any group would be envious of. Whole Damn Body just keeps adding to the list.
My only complaint about Whole Damn Body is that its not long enough. It makes a great companion piece to Hello Sadness on the eve of that album’s 10th anniversary, but it also shows a band working at the absolute peak of their powers, overflowing with top shelf material. I have to wonder why they sat on these songs for so long. Whatever the reason, it’s glorious to have them out in the world.
Check out Whole Damn Body, below.