Los Campesinos! - A Los Campesinos! Christmas
With only a week to go until the big day, there will be a lot of you trampling on each other in the shops - but every music fan knows 'tis the season to sit down and soak up the sonics with a mince pie or five. The thing with Christmas music, though? Most of it ain't great. Especially when, God bless them, acts attempt to create new entries to the classic canon that have to compete with Wham! No-one can ever compete with Wham! Occasionally, the odd experiment will bear fruit (my pick of the last decade would be Sufjan Stevens's ongoing festive opus) and indie hopefuls Los Campesinos! are among those looking to bring comfort and joy to your ears this year.
The Cardiff collective's stocking filler comprises six songs (five LC! originals, one cover of Mud's 'Lonely This Christmas'), resulting in a short but sweet EP that effectively applies the band's indie rock noise to a clutch of have-a-go contemporary carols. They're a bit bolshy and the wrapping is a bit haphazard, but you can tell thought and love have gone into these gifts. The highlights come in the middle: 'The Holly & the Ivy' demonstrates the bells-and-whistles musicality that is a trademark on the aforementioned Stevens's December ditties (it moves from bare-branch folk to film score majesty), followed by the grungy guitars and lovelorn chorus of 'Kindle a Flame in Her Heart', the perfect decoration to the messy final hours of this year's Christmas party. You'll forget all about these songs once Xmas has been and gone, but file the EP away and you may remember them fondly when you dig it out again next year. Still not up there with 'Last Christmas' though - not even close.