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CD: Camper Van Beethoven - La Costa Perdita | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Camper Van Beethoven - La Costa Perdita

CD: Camper Van Beethoven - La Costa Perdita

Perennials of US college radio return with something bright and very likeable

Camper Van Beethoven: horsing around with a sun-dappled sound

Californian oddballs Camper Van Beethoven are best known for their strange song “Take The Skinheads Bowling” which established the group in 1985 and was re-popularised when used in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. With the exception of a sabbatical during the Nineties, when Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery had success with the more accessible Cracker, they’ve been lurking in the shadows of US alternative music ever since.

Their unpredictable assaying of multiple musical styles, usually filtered through the prism of psychedelic folk punk, has given them solid cult status. La Costa Perdita, their eighth album, at first seems to have rather a mainstream musical outlook. A loose concept album celebrating California, it opens with “Come Down the Coast” which sounds like a number David Crosby or The Eagles might have knocked out on a particularly stoned, sunny Seventies afternoon. Within a few songs, however, the quintet demonstrate they’re still pretty unusual. “Bring to me the empty venom and make me a sandwich” runs the relentless, surreal and slightly sinister final chorus of “Too High for the Love-In”, while “Summer Days” sounds like Blue Oyster Cult gone folk and is an opaque yet gripping paean to lost freedom. And then there's “Some Day Our Love Will Sell Us Out”, a violin-tinted ballad that appears to have gone a little woozy on LSD.

Much of the album is lovely. “Northern California Girls” is goofily sweet and the final “A Love for All Time” is a touchingly naïf cosmic love song. Lowery’s lyrics, while rarely straightforward, are fascinating and engaging, and the album’s predilection for showy, harmonic West Coast guitar-play works in its favour. In fact, the whole thing adds up to a real treat that will undoubtedly slip under the radar for most, but which is more deserving of a hearing than many younger, prettier rising acts with their toes dipped in Americana.

Listen to "Northern California Girls"

The lyrics, while rarely straightforward, are engaging, and the album’s predilection for showy West Coast guitar-play works in its favour


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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