I can’t sing. There are dying, flea-bitten and rabies-ravaged dogs whimpering away their mortality in god-forsaken council estates somewhere emitting noises that would be a better approximation to the vocals of Stealer’s Wheel’s ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ than the squalid rendition I’m currently belting out for the (dis)pleasure of my housemates. Gareth Campesinos! can’t sing either. The difference between me and him: he’s worth listening to.
On their third LP, this ex-Cardiff University septet find their frontman continuing to carve out an impeccable name for himself as a lyricist of deftness and daring. Sometimes his choice of phrasing might sound arse-clenchingly dire (vidi: ‘I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock/Feels like the build up takes forever/But you never touch my cock’). But to these ears; it. Just. Works. It has something to do with the conviction with which he delivers his lyrics of love, lust, lies and longing. It also has a lot to do with the six multi-instrumentalists going hell-for-leather behind him.
The band’s tried and tested collision of twee and hardcore credentials has come on leaps and bounds since their 2008 debut and although they haven’t completely done away with their more boisterous tendencies (the ‘bumbah bumbah’ refrain of ‘These Are Listed Buildings’, the full-tilt guitar work and group shout-alongs littered throughout the album keep much of the proceedings’ tone fist-pump friendly) there is a noticeable migration to places much murkier than they’ve been before.
Record highlight ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’ is a malevolently moody affair – all vocal distortion, death and decay – and sees the band effortlessly fulfill their potential of being something really quite special. The song’s line ‘And all you can hear is the sound of your own heart’ is pretty damn apt – this is heart-racingly good stuff. Plus it means I can’t hear the sound of my own singing either.