Sick Scenes: A Musical Triumph about Growing Up & Old

By Molly K. Lichtner, 3/29/17

Los Campesinos! touts themselves as “your ex-girlfriend’s favorite band,” and they’re not wrong; with their often whining but immensely relatable lyrics, Los Campesinos! has become a mainstay in any true indie pop fan’s album rotation.  For their 6th studio album, Sick Scenes, they have given fans everything they’ve come to expect and more.  Their lyrics (all written by front man Gareth) have grown, matured, and developed alongside their often messy and audibly overwhelming compositions.  And it’s so good.  Below I have highlighted some of my favorite songs from album, although the whole thing is truly a gift and deserves a complete listen.

Renato Dall’Ara (2008)

“All I want tonight is a friend and a fight/Say it to my face if it satiates your appetite”

A powerhouse of a song to start the record, with tongue-in-cheek wit that cuts deep.  It begins softly, and sounds almost if it was recorded behind closed doors, until the bass drum kicks in.  For those of us not privy to European football, Renato Dall’Ara is a sports stadium in Italy where England has had some amazing victories as well as some painful losses in the 90s.  The English football team’s up and downs mirrors the band’s, who are most certainly on the uptick right now.

A Slow, Slow Death

“I got your initials inside a heart tattoo/We two in vermillion, we two a lovers’ coup”

This song is soft.  It’s wistful.  It’s docile.  It’s comforting in a strange way, like a pleasant memory that you can’t quite remember.  The drums are reminiscent of the drumline used in By Your Hand, the first track of the band’s 2011 album, Hello Sadness (another must listen, by the way).  Both By Your Hand and A Slow, Slow Death are about yearning, but different kinds of yearning; the former is about sexual lust, whereas the latter focuses on emotional longing.  The verses are performed partially in staccato, which gives the song a sense of progression.

The Fall of Home

“Another family friend fell sick/Gave the fascists a thousand ticks”

This song evokes bittersweet melancholy.  Its lyrics are vague enough to be about any time period, but knowing what the political climate in the UK was around the time it was written makes it so much more impactful.  This song also brings back the band’s fan-favorite instrument, the glockenspiel.  Gareth sings in a slow way that makes me believe he knows what he’s talking about; he knows about the fall of home.

5 Flucloxacillin

“Another blister pack pops, but I still feel much the same/Thirty-one, and depression is a young man’s game”

Easily the most relatable song, this song highlights the struggle of finding the correct cocktail of medications needed to make it through the day in one piece.  Gareth name drops pharmaceuticals like celebrities; it’s clear that he’s on a first name basis with most of them.  The song ends with a repetition of “Well, I guess we’ll never know,” which is a sentiment millennials can stand behind.

Here’s to the Fourth Time!

“All these sick scenes played out in my memory/Wake up, I’ll tell you everything honestly”

This is, by far, my favorite on the entire album.  The tempo is upbeat and the lyrics are sung in a way that makes the song feel reminiscent of a great love.  About two thirds of the way through, it fades out; the beat changes; the song changes.  This is representative of the relationship that the song is about: it was great, but now it’s not the same, but still, remember when it was?

LC!4LYF

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