THANXFDR: Los Campesinos!
In this heartwarming seasonal series, the Crossfader staff will be running you through some of the media-related things that they’re most thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!
My life simply would not have been the same had I not discovered indie pop band Los Campesinos! one day in July of 2010. Having found myself deeply involved with a girl who lived half a country away, I spent most of my free time sitting on the porch and wishing that I lived anywhere else except five minutes from the beach. What do you do when you’re stuck in the spiral of long-distance “love”? We were still too virginal to get up to anything spicy, so sending each other music constituted an essential part of our relationship. Having just begun to have my musical tastes assaulted by the pseudo-hip who exclusively shop at Salvation Army and aggressively drink black coffee to prove their intellectual worth, I was busy pretending to enjoy of Montreal’s “Id Engager” when I noticed the suggested video for “You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos! “My oh my, that sure is a lot of exclamation points,” I said. “This looks just twee enough to share.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
A dark time of our lives when this movie seemed like the pinnacle of cinema
Now, I gotta say, I got into Los Campesinos! at the perfect time. Look at me, I listen to six to eight full albums per day and just published a primer on the noise genre; as much as it pains me to say, were I hearing “You! Me! Dancing!” in 2015, it probably wouldn’t raise the hair on the back of my neck to the degree that it did 64 months previously. But this band has been there at every major point in my life and has ingrained themselves so fully into my being that I know without a doubt that the sounds of Los Campesinos! are going to be the first things that filter into the ears of my children. And why?
Los Campesinos! taught me how to love. It’s hard to express your feelings when you’re young. The modern world rams down our throats the fact that our emotions are fleeting and inconsequential until we’re an “adult,” which contributes to certain obstacles in terms of processing and presenting our internal conflicts. In 2010, I knew I was sad and anxious all the time, but I didn’t know enough to define how I felt. What I did know, however, was that when I pictured my romantic interest and I shuffling our feet in unison at a party Michael Cera would be at to the aforementioned “You! Me! Dancing!” – well, I couldn’t imagine anything that would make me happier; the first time I’d ever felt that way. When I used to walk the streets at night as an overcaffeinated, angsty high school sophomore, looking at the stars (melodramatic, I know) and listening to “You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing,” feeling the gut-wrenching, melancholic weight of unrequited affection as a romantic interest and I drifted apart, that’s how I learned to identify the vulnerability and honesty of heartfelt endearment.
When I drove through the hills with a romantic interest in 2011, a Tumblr.-dappled sunset floating through the car windows and a stupid grin refusing to get the fuck off my face as “By Your Hand” played on the souped-up stereo of her Camry, that’s how I knew what it felt like to have someone who made every minute of your day by merely sitting next to you, a feeling that had gained a few more layers of maturity, just like the band’s sound.
Los Campesinos! taught me how to lose. In 2012, as a romantic interest and I quarreled every day and communication broke down to a steadily increasing degree, I used to force myself to walk to the ocean (melodramatic, I know) and listen to “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think About The Future” while doing just that, coming to terms with and fully considering a life without someone I had at one point assumed would be with me forever.
In 2013, as that relationship crashed to a halt, crying into my pillow to accompany “To Tundra” helped me access all of the pain and frustration that had been building up for half a year, and I’ll be damned if “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks” didn’t give me just the smallest shred of hope for happiness afterwards.
In 2014, after getting rejected as a UCLA transfer, pounding my steering wheel and shouting the transcendent crescendo of “Hello Sadness” on the I-10 Freeway allowed me to achieve a sense of closure, something that may have not happened otherwise.
Los Campesinos! taught me how to live. On a personal level, it’s very hard for me to feel like anything apart from a well-oiled machine, plugging information in and churning productivity out. Los Campesinos! allowed me to access all of the unadulterated joy and stomach-dropping depression of life, the roller-coaster swell of which defines the very act of living. My quintessential relationship with music would have never had a chance of sprouting had it not been for my relationship with this band, and Hell, I’ll even admit that Los Campesinos! has kept me alive at certain low-points of my existence. What better to signify the spring of hope I felt when driving to visit one of the aforementioned romantic interests after we got back together than “For Flotsam”?
I’ve lost count as to the amount of times I’ve been tempted to sprint down the street with a manic grin on my face as the chorus to “Avocado, Baby” plays on my headphones.
The amount of times people have passed me by with incredulous looks as I silently shout all of the words to “She Crows (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #4)” and air-drum-and-guitar along would baffle you.
It’s impossible to keep track of just how often I’ve been floored by the one-two punch of “This Is a Flag. There Is No Wind” and “Coda: a Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State” as I’ve stumbled through warm New Jersey nights while visiting my ailing grandparents.
The truth is, there will never be enough words to describe just how much Los Campesinos! means to me. They are the band whose songs instantly bring me to tears with the pressing amount of nostalgia each of them hold. They are the band I have introduced to all romantic interests past and present. They are the band that I have self-loathed, angsted, and internally died with. They are the band that I have lived, laughed, and loved with. They are the band I would take to a desert island. They are the band that I hope to hear at the bitter end. Quite simply, Los Campesinos! might just be the most important thing in and to my life, and I could not be happier that I finally have an opportunity to thank them to this degree.
To Los Campesinos!: thank you. The magnitude of the personal experience and gratitude behind those two words cannot be accurately conveyed. I look forward to your impending 2016 effort.