I remember very clearly the first time I ever listened to Los Campesinos!. It was early one morning, having stayed up browsing the music channels for hours. I hadn't been brought up with anything other than terrestrial television, but moving to the countryside meant it was either satellite or nothing. Given my parents' primary religion was Coronation Street, there was only one option.

So I came late to sitting for hours browsing through forty channels, looking for one song I might like in a sea of hundreds. I quickly found an affinity with the 120 Minutes show on MTV2, and found a lot of artists that I'd never had a chance to hear before. Los Campesinos! were one of them. 'You! Me! Dancing!' came on, and I was onboard. It was frantic, energetic, melodic, and youthful, passionate. I loved it, and downloaded what I could of theirs, including their debut EP, and their 'The International Tweexcore Underground' single. I was really ready for their album, but by the time it arrived, I found it a little bit lacking. It was enjoyable, but not the album I was looking forward to for so long. Anticipation probably killed it.

All of this was forgotten when Romance Is Boring was released. This album epitomised what had made me excited about Los Campesinos! in the first place. To be clear, I enjoyed Hold On Now, Youngster…, but I think the band nailed it with Romance Is Boring. No Blues is the band's fifth album in five years, and the first without Harriet and Ellen, and this loss is not without justified concern. The line-up changes for the band have come thick and fast over the last couple of releases. Ultimately, it is Gareth Campesinos! who performs the majority of songwriting, and who helms the vocals at their strongest, and this is an album where his pains and own concerns come right to the fore.

This isn't all too new, but normally we have Gareth's pained vocal line hidden behind a waterfall of niche poetic references. Here there's no such thing. The hurt is upfront with you, and it's good. No Blues feels like a reboot of sorts, in a lot of ways. It's clear, it's focused, it's incredibly direct. The best songs showcase this in a great way. Tracks such as 'Avocado, Baby' maintain the erratic melodic disarray that make the band so charming, and reinforces that any worries about the band losing its identity shouldn't be taken too seriously.

'What Death Leaves Behind' comes early in the album's runtime, and contains all the hallmarks we're used to from Los Campesinos! with call and response vocals and quick changes of mood, the bipolar undertone throughout a lot of the band's produce. Alongside the usual tunes we're familiar with (which remarkably still don't sound tired), we're faced with lo-fi, stripped back, almost ballad-like track, 'A Portrait Of The Trequartista As A Young Man', downbeat stadium anthem, 'Glue Me', and 'Let It Spill', which treads a line between The Cure and a 90s children's TV show soundtrack.

The special mentions needed here come for three tracks, the first one being 'The Time Before The Last Time', with Gareth sounding genuinely angry, without a veil covering his feelings; it's moments like this which stop No Blues from being 'more of the same'. The other two tracks are the album opener and album closer, 'For Flotsam,' and, 'Selling Rope (Swan Dive To Estuary).' 'For Flotsam' is a great track to kick off the album with, and sets the mood perfectly. 'Selling Rope (Swan Dive To Estuary)' ties everything up neatly with a simple piano line maintaining the grounding for the track, as Gareth gives a really uplifting performance, which comes just in time, meaning the album isn't all doom and gloom. It is called No Blues, after all.

This album is definitely worth your time. In terms of where it sits in the band's discography, I'm not sure it matters a great deal, but it's definitely up there with some of their best work. Given all the changes, it's good to report that there's still a distinct voice. Most importantly, and most impressively, five albums in and Gareth Campesinos! has produced his best performance ever.