The British indie rockers Los Campesinos! have long been obsessed with mortality, and never more so than on their 2011 album Hello Sadness. That record opened with a song in which a cheery chorus shouts, “By your hand is the only end that I foresee,” and continued with songs about self-burial (“To Tundra”), death by sport (“Every Defeat a Divorce [Three Lions]“) and, on “Baby I Got the Death Rattle,” bedside memorials. (It seems pertinent to mention that lead singer Gareth David spends part of his time away from the band literally tending a graveyard.)
So it seems notable when on “What Death Leaves Behind” — the lead single from their newest album No Blues — they express optimism about what this world has to offer: “What death is leaving behind, death leaves behind love/ We will flower again, I have surely seen it.” But over the course of their fifth album in five years, the six Campesinos don’t so much change course as continue to perfect their brew of darkly comedic fatalism.
There are death fantasies here, and they’re as beautifully funny as ever: On “Cemetary Gaits,” a headstone reads only “Sad Story”; on “Glue Me,” lovers are glued together in life and in burial; the album concludes with an epically literal swan dive (“Selling Rope [Swan Dive to Estuary]“). But No Blues (the album’s title is taken from a line that reads “There is no blues that can sound quite as heartfelt as mine”) is like every Los Campesinos! album in that lead Campesino David blows self-absorption out into a rallying cry: We’re all in this — love, death — together. And that’s where his band comes in, building up heart-swelling climaxes with wailing backing vocals, racing keyboards and a punching horn section. Los Campesinos! will never defeat itself.