The Playlizt (volume 1: the dew will temper yr fall)
Editor’s note: This was going to be a two-for-one, but I’ve already written over a thousand words. I think the next playlist can wait until next Tuesday.
If you missed the introductory post: this is the second in a series of posts about playlist I’ve recently created. I’m hoping to maintain it as a weekly endeavour.
the dew will temper yr fall
This is just 80 minutes of Los Campeisnos!, one of my absolute favourite bands. Technically, it’s the first one I made since deciding to start actually trying to fix my playlists, and it was also made at someone else’s request. I could go on talking about Los Camps! for hours if unchecked. What do I even say? They’re an emo-indie band from Cardiff, you’ve probably heard You! Me! Dancing!, if only because it was used in a Budweiser commercial. I didn’t put that one on here, even though I think it’s a great song1. At large, I love and resent them and equal parts for how damn clever their lyrics are. Even at a surface read, I find their lyrics and imagery to be top-notch – and if you’re at all pretentious, even just a little, it’s hard not to fall in love. There are, of course, songs that I didn’t manage to fit in here. For example, I should have found a way to fit Avocado, Baby in.
Broadly speaking, the first album (Hold On Now, Youngster…) is the most twee of the crowd. From there, the albums get more emotionally heavy-hitting, and a bit less chaotic.2 There’s something to that first-album energy, though, and it’s not like they get any less frenetic. They only got more emotionally raw – listening to the front half of this playlist while deciding on a final track order nearly brought me to tears.
Side A: Prologue / Heart Swells
The first two songs are a prologue of sorts – I didn’t want to go right in with the emotional depth charges.3 In Medias Res is almost too perfect an encapsulation of how LC! likes to arrange a song – lush orchestration and the sort of dynamic shifts that will send you diving for the volume knob if you’ve got it too high for the quiet bits. Death to Los Campesinos! is the song I originally started the playlist with. It’s jangly and bright if you ignore the lyrics.
In some way or another, all the songs from Heart Swells / Pacific Daylight Time through to Knee Deep at ATP remind me of failed relationships and forgotten friendships. Heart Swells is uncharacteristically straightforward for Los Camps – I didn’t give it much attention the first few times I listened to this album, but that was a mistake. Baby, I Got The Death Rattle and You’ll Need Those Fingers for Crossing are desperate anthems of self-loathing. The Fall of Home, heart-wrenchingly, sums up everything I’ve ever felt while driving through the town I grew up in.4
Content warnings apply to The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future, moreso than for others – if ever a Los Camps song is obviously about self-harm and suicidal thinking, it’s this one. You’ll forgive me for not dwelling on it too long, moving and moody as it is. Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1 is a little lighter, if you can consider a song about wasting your money in a phone box trying to call your ex “lighter”.5
A Litany / Heart Swells brings us almost to the end of Side A. I was feeling particularly smug for managing to bookend this part with the two Heart Swells, if you’re wondering – and I absolutely tried to fit Heart Swells/100-1 in there too. We can’t have it all, like this ballad tries to remind us. A slow, almost hollow shout into a the void, and the faintest of replies.
If we’re going to continue this tortured metaphor, Knee Deep at ATP is an overture to Side B, which is more musically upbeat. I can pinpoint where I started falling in love with Los Campesions, and it was this lyric:
Maybe the lining of a winter coat mightn’t be the best place / to hide a summer secret
Side B: A Good Night for a Fist-fight
Songs about Your Girlfriend is, to a fault, full of those turns of phrase that I love so much. A Slow, Slow Death almost feels like it belongs on Side A, but… there’s a certain sense of hopefulness in accepting the inevitable, and that tips the scales for me.
An article I read ages ago declared that We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, as a song title, was as good a way to sum up LC! as any. I tend to agree, but the song itself is also a damn fine encapsulation of their whole deal. Layers of metaphor, waxing poetic about the end of a long-distance fling, a shrieking nihilistic damnation of one’s own vital organs. If I had to rank their songs,6 this one is on the podium. So is Here’s to the Fourth Time, and I honestly can’t put my fingers on why. There’s something about the vocals that just gets to me. Every so often, I get in a mood where I want to listen to the same song on repeat for an hour or so, and Fourth Time is a frequent flier on that particular mission. International Tweexcore Underground, honestly, is just here because it’s fun. A little bit of painfully upbeat early-installment weirdness, but the good kind.
Romance is Boring is another podium finisher for me. It’s loud, it’s brash, it bites. It’s good. If you care about that sort of thing, it’s even got a little bit of a personal victory for lead singer Gareth – he stole one line from one of his favourite bands, The Beautiful South (whose lead singer he would later briefly tour with). Los Camps also covered the song in question if you’re feeling exceptionally meta about it all. Coming up for air from the digression: I don’t know jack about guitars, and the only way I know how to describe the guitar sounds on this track is “crunchy”. Crunchy is good.
Rounding out the potential podium: By Your Hand. I’m a sucker for the drums, the almost-triumphant chorus, the insufferable layers of sexual innuendo, the luscious second verse into the bridge… there isn’t anything here I don’t like. If you listen to just one track from this whole list, go with this one. I guess that makes it my favourite, if I really had to pick.
My Year In Lists makes the cut for two reasons:
- These lyrics:
You said, “Send me stationery to make me horny”
So I always write you letters in multicolours
Decorating envelopes for foreplay
- The line that immediately follows:
Damn extended metaphors, I get carried away
At least they know they’re doing it.
In the event that you didn’t notice that this band is British, a lot of their lyrics involve football metaphors. Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions) is more obvious about it than most – it’s not difficult to imagine a dating history as tortured and hopeless as England’s perennial failure to win a championship. 5 Flucloxacillin takes the cake, meanwhile, for hardest song to spell. Its album, Sick Scenes, came out in 2017, and it’s not difficult to read the majority of that album as a reaction to the forces conspiring to fuck things up: the immediate after-effects of the Brexit referendum, the class warfare between older and younger generations, the utter defeat that felt all too common that year.
There are lyrical themes and phrases that Los Camps! like to stitch through their work – She Crows (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #4) is partly here to represent their most recent release: a 2021 EP of songs cut from 2011’s Hello Sadness, but also to represent the Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown Tetraology. #1 came on 2008’s We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. We’ve Got Your Back, on Romance is Boring (2010), is technically suffixed (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2. Similarly, Baby I’ve Got The Death Rattle is Uncredited Breakdown #3.
Let It Spill, if verified Genius annotations are to believed, contains Gareth’s favourite verse. I wasn’t originally sure how to finish the playlist off, truth be told, but I could’ve done far worse than this. 2013’s No Blues had to be represented somewhere, and if it wasn’t with Let It Spill I bwould’ve gone with a song I’m awarding an honourable mention to, For Flotsam. No Blues is far, far from a bad album, to be clear. I just couldn’t make that track, or Avocado, Baby fit. If you’ve really enjoyed the playlist, there’s more tracks for you out there.7
Emacs tells me I’ve now written over 1800 words about this band at this point, and I’m sure you want me to shut up. Here’s the links – see you next week.
Please refer to my previous comments about liking songs with a big crescendo – this one’s about as big as they get. ↩︎
I draw a line between “chaotic” and “frenetic” – there’s certainly a hyper-active, up-tempo feeling to a lot of LC! songs, but I don’t think anything sums up the pretentious chaos of Hold On Now, Youngster any better than the count-off that begins Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats. ↩︎
Do you really think I could resist starting a playlist off with a song named In Medias Res? Of course I can’t. ↩︎
For the longest time, I thought that the last line of this song was “many years practice of speaking in hashtags” and not “speaking in hushed tones”. Not quite the same, is it. ↩︎
Please do not make me rank them. ↩︎
If you’re at all cynical or morose about the holiday season, you’ll love A Los Campesinos! Christmas. You might also like Christmas Will Break Yr Heart – it’ll come up whenever I get around to LCD Soundsystem. ↩︎