Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness

27 Nov

I decided to give Los Campesinos! another shot despite the fact that their 2010 release, Romance is Boring, was a total snooze-fest.  This year’s Hello Sadness, though listenable and a step back in the right direction stylistically, still falls short.

I first heard of Los Campesinos! from a friend in 2008 right after the release of Hold On Now, Youngster…  That album’s unrelenting pop energy was instantly inviting and pleasantly overwhelming.For one thing, I have to say that the band knows how to name an album.  Hold On Now, Youngster… suggests a quick and possibly haphazard approach to indie pop rock.  We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed had a lot of the same energy that made the Hold On a  pleasure, but the darker and subsequently less poppy lyricism…let’s just say after listening to the record, I thought to myself: “I like this band, but if they start testing my patience with some of this shit, I’m out…”  And then Romance; the album should just have been called Los Campesinos! is Boring.

When I heard that they had another album coming out this year, I was excited, but at the same time, I was ready to write the band off totally if it sucked.  It doesn’t suck.  It’s okay.  Just okay.

The best song on the album and potentially the only high point is “Songs About Your Girlfriend.”  It’s mercilessly poppy, but it also has an unexpected complexity.

But then…

The title track sounds like Arcade Fire was annexed by a bored Chris Conley.  “Life is A Long Time” tries my patience.  Lyrics don’t have to be poetic; in fact, I encourage them to be either straightforward or totally abstract.  I’ll be the first to admit that I had too much too drink last night, but when I hear things like “My brown eyes are two pools of mud” and “Your blue eyes are like the deepest and the warmest seas,” I taste bile on the back of my tongue.  Is this still Los Campesinos! or is it Armor For Sleep?  “Baby I’ve Got the Death Rattle” sounds like Taking Back Sunday started hooking up with Our Lady Peace.  Christ.

Hello Sadness is collection of near misses.  Like I said, the album is listenable, but at the same time, you want to slap every Campesino across the face and say a few things:

1)  Your band’s got an exclamation point in your name and your best songs are 2:45 long…stay happy and keep it under four minutes.

2)  I like revisiting bands that I listened to in high school, but I don’t like visiting bands that sound like bands that I listened to in high school.  Stop being emo!

3)  I want to hear boys and girls on every track.  Don’t be afraid to sound British!


4)  If the next one isn’t better, I’m done.

Rating: ***1/2

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