A chronicle of Los Campesinos!’s soccer references

In honor of the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament, both NY/LAnd outlets have collaborated in analyzing all the football references in indie pop band Los Campesinos!’s music. 

Desert NY/LAnd: So there’s this band.

NY/LAnd Sports: Okay.

Desert: And I need your help with them.

Sports: Why exactly?

Desert: Sometimes they sing about sports stuff.

Sports: I see.

Desert: And I don’t know what they’re talking about.

Sports: What’s the name of this band?

Desert: They’re called Los Campesinos!

S: With the ! and all?

D: Yes, the ! is important.

S: And they’re Spanish?

D: No, they’re English.

S: England English?

D: From Wales.

S: So are they English or are they Welsh?

D: Yes.

S: Whatever. What kind of music do they play?

D: Umm, twee?

S: I don’t know what that is.

D: Tweexcore punk…

S: …

D: …they’re emo.

S: (stands up to leave)

D: No! Wait! They’ve got some jams that are totally not emo. Like this one! You might have heard it in a beer commercial.

S: Huh, that is a jam. Anything else like this?

D: Well…not really, the emo followed quickly and stuck. But it’s really good emo, I promise!

S: I’m guessing you like them.

D: I DO!

S: Even with the sports?

D: Yeah, that’s the tricky part. Their singer and principle songwriter Gareth Campesinos! is a huge…

S: Wait, that’s his name? Campesinos! ?

D: Yeah, they do the Ramones thing.

S: With the ! ??

D: So as I was saying, Gareth is a huge football fan.

S: Soccer.

D: Gareth is a huge soccer fan. And a few of the band’s songs are about soccer, and some of them have these obscure soccer references peppered throughout.

S: And you need my help to figure it out.

D: Correct.

S: Why, though? Is it that unusual to find sports references in music?

D: Well, there’s a lot of contemporary rap that addresses sports. Action Bronson is the king of the trivial sports reference, and Drake never misses an opportunity to drop some of his sports connections.

S: Drake…

D: Don’t hate. But rap is pretty much where it stops. Rock ‘n roll generally stays away from sports.

S: Why do you think that is?

D: My theory is that the people who grew up really listening to music and the people who grew up really following sports never mixed.

S: Makes sense. So you’re saying there isn’t really anyone that really nerds out on both music and sports?

D:…

S:…

D: So can you help me out?

S: Sure, where do we start?

D: Not with their early stuff, they go up until the end of their first album without any soccer references.

S: That’s a relief, really early stuff usually isn’t worth listening to.

D: Hold On Now Youngster, that’s their first album, and it’s actually their best, you should probably take a listen.

S: Later on. Where’s the soccer?

D: Okay, it first shows up on We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, a between LPs EP, though really it should be called their second full-length.

S: I don’t know those things.

D: It’s on “Miserabilia,” which is possibly their best song, where Gareth sings “I’ve cried on ashen floors of working men’s clubs/ ’96, ’98, 2000, 2002, 2004/ Oh my God, will it end?/ Oh my God/ OH MY GOD!”

S: Okay, so you know the World Cup?

D: Sure.

S: And the European Cup?

D: Sure…?

S: Basically there’s a big soccer tournament every two years for the European powerhouses.

D: So what’s with the OMGs?

S: So picture all of these tournaments.

D: Got it.

S: England loses.

D: Oh.

S: Well, they won once in 1966, but they were hosting that tournament, so it would have been a disgrace if they didn’t.

D: Of course.

S: Like it was for them in 1996.

D: But doesn’t the United States lose every time? How is England different?

S: Failure is particularly sad for the English, mostly because England always thinks their team is better than it actually is.

D: Then that’s their fault, right?

S: Kinda. But the English probably should be better, considering they invented the sport.

D: Oof.

S: What’s next?

D: It’s this line from that album’s closer “All Your Kayfabe Friends.”

S: These song titles are killing it.

D: Yeah, it’s probably their best album.

S: Wait, I thought…

D: The line goes, “You asked if I’d be anyone from history/fact or fiction, dead or alive/I said I’d be Tony Cascarino circa 1995.”

S: HA!

D: WHAT??

S: Tony Cascarino was a famous Irish soccer player in the mid-90s.

D: Okay, so what makes him special?

S: He was…really good? I don’t know, that’s all the essential information. He threatened to kill his wife a few years back.

D: That sounds pretty essential.

S: Probably why he stuck the “1995” in there.

D: Alright, on their next album Romance is Boring, which is probably their most consistent release…

S: Hold up!

D: …they have this song “This Is A Flag. There Is No Wind.” And they sing, “this opportunity left me unmarked at the far post/but I glazed it right against the crossbar.”

S: He has a good opportunity to score, and then promptly misses.

D: In a sexual way?

S: Probably.

D: This is also the first album where they have an entire song dedicated to soccer, take a listen:

 

 

S: You have a lyrics sheet, I hope?

D: Here you go.

S: This is a weird-ass fantasy. Basically, he dreams of going to Malta and playing for their national soccer team. And then having them qualify for a cup. And then being crowned king of Malta.

D: And then the entire country masturbates to picture’s of his wife.

S: What’s next?

D: Okay, so their next album, Hello Sadness

S: Is their best?

D: Definitely not, easily their worst. Though it’s still very good.

S: Uh-huh.

D: They slow down on the references, though they have another one dedicated entirely to soccer:

 

 

S: Okay, this seems like a response to another song that I’m guessing you haven’t heard:

 

D: God, that’s awful.

S: Yeah, it’s cheesy. But that’s probably what makes LC!’s version so intriguing, the idea of England’s three lions actually burying their claws into Gareth’s chest, sports sometimes feels that way.

D: It’s pretty dark.

S: That’s English football.

D: So on their most recent album, No Blues, they ramp up the soccer references, and most songs mention the sport in some way.

S: Speed round!

D: “For Flotsam,” “As I describe my lonely/you listen very clear/the last set of goalposts taken down/summer of our numbered year.”

S: No meaningful soccer takes place in June and July of odd-numbered years.

D: Same song, “I’ve thrown my goalkeeper forward/she’s catenaccio”

S: He’s attacking all out, she’s defending with all her might.

D: “What Death Leaves Behind,” “I proofread the book of Job for the Lord/edit 1: League Cup 2004”

S: Pun on Joseph Desire-Job, hero for Middlesborough in the 2004 League Cup finals (thanks Google).

D: “Glue Me,” “I’m diving into headers/put this pretty face where these boots are flying in.”

S: Risking his safety to get the prize.

D: Same song, “we connected like a Yeboah volley.”

S: Referencing this pretty goal by Tony Yeboah.

D: Same song, “and we leave with all the dignity/of a missed Panenka penalty.”

S: A Panenka penalty is a risky strategy where a player taking a penalty shot floats it softly towards the middle hoping the keeper expects the ball to fly in hard to the left or right. If it works, it’s ballsy. If it doesn’t, it’s embarrassing.

D: “Portrait Of The Trequartista As A Young Man.”

S: A trequartista is a team’s premier goal-scorer.

D: And lastly, this really weird line from “Let It Spill,” “Bela Guttmann of love/curse all my exes to a life of celibacy.”

S: Guttmann is a pretty legendary figure in Europe. He was a middling player in the 1920s, but he got his name as an effective but fiery coach. He never stayed coaching a team for more than three years, but he was able to keep it as a career into the 1970s.

D: Jesus, that’s a long time.

S: His most famous run was with a Portuguese team called Benfica. The team won two straight European Cups, the highest club accomplishment at the time, and Guttmann was fired after his demand for a pay raise was not met.

D: Oh, shit.

S: But when he left, legend has it that he cursed the team, saying that Benfica wouldn’t win another European title for 100 years, and we’re currently in year 53 of the curse.

D: That’s hardcore.

S: I wouldn’t wish that on an ex.

D: That’s why this is their best album.

S: …okay, anything else?

D: Soccer pops up a couple more times, most surprisingly on their Christmas EP in a song called “A Doe to a Deer.”

S: That’s weird.

D: And notably on a B-side called “Allez Les Blues.”

S: That’s the French team’s song, like “Three Lions” is for England.

D: And that’s it! No more emo soccer to analyze for you!

S: This was actually kinda fun.

D: Yeah? If you liked this, you’ll like their most recent merchandise. Check out these new jerseys the band just came out with.

S: Woah! Those are fresh!

D: Sold out, sadly. You’ll have to stick with the music.

S: It’s still emo, right?

D: Still emo.

S: I’ll pass. Who’s going to win Euro 2016?

D: Not England!

S: Now you’ve got it.

 

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