Music review – Los Campesinos!: Hello Sadness
Yes, alright, Hello Sadness is a bit too polished. The third Los Campesinos! record (or fourth, if you think calling 2008’s We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed an “extended EP” is bullshit) sees the Welsh septet toning down the abrasion of last year’s Romance Is Boring in favour of syrup-thick synths, punchy bass, and crisp, clear recording. And so they don’t reach the bleeding-nose heights of that record’s standout songs, turning over the squelching guitars and the air-raid strings of “Romance is Boring” and “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know” in exchange for a renewed focus on bouncy, yet melancholic pop. It’s kind of a shame, because Romance is Boring was a rare record, one able to deftly wed shattering Xiu Xiu-style noise to blissful orchestral pop. It was thrilling. Hello Sadness isn’t.
The good news? Plenty of the other adjectives that used to apply to Los Campesinos! – exuberant, boisterous, melodic, intricate, catchy as hell – still apply. Gareth Campesinos! has argued that attractive people don’t write good lyrics, and he’s confident enough in his own self-loathing that he doesn’t sound desperate to prove it, singing about the “small comforts found in ABBA Gold and electronic chess” with the same misanthropic aplomb as when he confesses, “In the frost I drew a dick for every girl that wouldn’t fuck me.”
Drunkenly sketching pathetic, lovelorn phalluses while guitars jangle and keyboards swish all around – it’s no Romance is Boring, but it’s as true to form as Los Campesinos! gets.