The wink is back on No Blues, beginning with the title. Taken on its own, in all caps as it is on the album cover, it stands defiantly against the impulse to wallow. Yet it comes from a line in “As Lucerne/The Low,” where Gareth sings, “There is no blues that can sound quite as heartfelt as mine,” a rallying cry of the ultimate navel-gazing pity party. But Los Campesinos! has always been far too self-aware to sing something like that without sarcasm. In the next verse, Gareth mocks his purple prose, adding, “For sweet nothings from the lips of a gargoyle / Nobody ever yearned.”
Gareth has always excelled at wry turns of phrase, and Los Campesinos! seem to be at their best when crafting effervescent pop. In “Avocado, Baby,” No Blues has the band’s best song since the ebullient “You! Me! Dancing!,” and “What Death Leaves Behind” ends triumphantly, with Gareth proclaiming, “We will flower again / I have surely seen it / We will flower again.”
The transition between the optimistic C86 vibes of 2008’s debut album ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ and their more heartbroken fourth, 2011’s ‘Hello Sadness’, was remarkable. Follow-up ‘No Blues’ finds the band settling into a more consistent sound. Despite the positive title, singer Gareth Paisey is as lyrically downbeat as ever, but it’s the melodic swells that prevent everything becoming too suicidal. Harmonies and violins swirl as Paisey wails his woes on ‘As Lucerne/The Low’, and ‘Cemetery Gaits’ lulls with rippling electronics that exist alongside various metaphors for death. Maturity suits them well.