Los Campesinos
@ Leeds Cockpit

It’s a busy venue and a young crowd tonight for Los Campesinos’ deliberately quirky student antics. The seven-strong band smile their way on stage and proceed to go for the bright fun things award. Songs stop and start mid-way, changing pace as soon as a beat is exstablished. The choppy sound stops to feature a xylophone break or a fiddle passage (though it smothers the melodica melody). Their second song is fun-fest current single “The International Tweexcore Underground” – with frequent pauses for witty asides.

The band are mostly having fun and one guitarist grins every time they hit a joint high. Two keyboardists, 2 guitars, a bassist, a singer and a drummer makes for a crowded stage. Maybe that’s why the lead singer is tearing his hair out. Half Orlando Weeks (of The Maccabees), half Sebastian, the Prime Minister’s hanger on in Little Britain, he squirms and camps his way through the mannered vocals. It conjures up some excitement but it doesn’t take long before it grates. The other singer, the woman on keyboards, is not so strong but their boy – girl exchanges have me in mind of The Beautiful South’s structures, but sung by an excitable schoolboy. The tunes throw in chops, snippets and cross-references from other cultural marker points. The drums sweat speedily and with 7 on stage they look like a 45 minute stage invasion.

The singer grumbles about how Ricky of the Kaisers was rude to him at the Wireless Festival – one to hold a grudge and sing about it, this fella. Sung couplets tread the wise / naïve highwire and, I’m sure will be dissected like the words of Morrissey by fanatic fans. Likewise, the music wobbles on a tightrope between mess and structure so that, when they play a Pavement cover, the straight ahead, more ‘rock’ approach is almost a respite. “We only finished university 4 months ago so thank you each and every one of you” – the singer thanks us all, before the sweet and bitter fiddle tune and steadier beat makes Sweet Cheeks a big endpiece with three bands on stage and a stage invasion.

A fun night out and a glimpse of a band that need to make sure they don’t veer too far to the quaint and risk irritating their wider audience. For now, it’s nice to hear them fresh and new.

Ross McGibbon