Los Campesinos!

Kev Eddy 11/09/2006

It's hot, it's busy, it's packed in the Rats tonight. In fact, I'd be very surprised if this wasn't the venue's biggest gig since its Nineties heyday. Why? Seven students from Cardiff, with a love of twee indie nights, a host of grassroots recommendations from discerning internet music addicts, and one very timely mention in the NME. Hence the sweat dripping from the walls. They really should have read the crowd more effectively and ordered more cider, mind.

So, are Los Campesinos! worth the hype? Are they really the most electrifying indie DIY phenomenon since the Arctic Monkeys? Well, yes and no. They are, without a doubt, an extremely good band. Extremely good. Judicious use of clarinets, glockenspiels, double-drum playing and handclaps abound, and they can sure write a tune - some of which are surprisingly hard-edged. They also have a sense of sheer joy (or is it surprise?) about them, an infectious feeling which makes you want to dance along like you're 14 again.

Despite all this, though, they never seem to quite achieve the promise of their recorded material. Perhaps it's the heat or the practiced disinterest of the crowd. Perhaps it's nerves. Perhaps it's inexperience. No matter what, the gig never seems to light up the way it should, and thus remains unsatisfying for a fair amount of the set.

Even so, they are far, far better than almost all of those identikit scene bands out there. They may draw from a range of sources - some more obvious than others - but they do, ultimately, create something individual, interesting and above all passionate. And when Gareth and Aleksandra* Campesinos! quietly explain 'that there's one thing I can never confess…' during the pop perfection of You! Me! Dancing! then you believe that, given time, this band will be something truly special. This is only a beginning.

* who is, incidentally, the most beautiful woman alive today.