Los Campesinos! : Hello Sadness

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/loscampesinoshellosadness.jpg" alt="Los Campesinos! : Hello Sadness" /><br /> It's been a turbulent year-and-change of changes at Ciudad Campesinos!. ...
Los Campesinos! : Hello Sadness
7.7 Arts & Crafts/Wichita

Los Campesinos! : Hello Sadness It’s been a turbulent year-and-change of changes at Ciudad Campesinos!.  The seven-member Cardiff collective burst upon the indie-scene with exuberance in 2007 debut EP Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (QRO review) and 2008 debut LP Hold On Now, Youngster… (QRO review), and have managed to be more prolific than many of their contemporaries, despite their unwieldy size.  But 2009’s return to school of co-singer Aleks Campesinos (QRO interview) set off what has kind of been a chain reaction of changes in the group, including Aleks’ replacement with Kim Campesinos (real-life sister of frontman Gareth – QRO interview), the departure of drummer Ollie (QRO interview), the addition of first percussionist Rob and then new drummer Jason, and now, only last month, the return to school of violinist Harriet.  Aleks & Ollie were still in the band when Los Campesinos! made their last full-length, Romance Is Boring (QRO review), but is LC! Mk 2 with Hello Sadness, which sees the band trade in some of their energy for somewhat more ‘traditional’ songcraft.

At first, Sadness seems just a slightly different shade of Campesinos!, as opener "By Your Hand" shifts a bit from their energy to bigness, while the following "Songs About Your Girlfriend" only tempers down on bombast.  But then the title track builds a somewhat epic bridge to a newer Los Campesinos!, who hew more to regular terms of songwriting, as opposed to the over-stuffed, hyperactive band of the past.  "Live Is a Long Time", "Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)", and "The Black Bird, The Dark Slope" are good songs, but not great in the way Los Campesinos! is great.  Meanwhile, the band goes sad, slow, and a bit overwrought on "Hate For the Island", "To Tundra", "Baby I Got the Death Rattle", and "Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. II".  All of these songs see Gareth step more front and center (no doubt due, at least in part, to the departure of Aleks – can’t do those boy-girl duets like "International Tweexcore Underground" when you’re brother & sister, unless you’re Donnie & Marie Osmond…), with his emotion kind of taking the place of the band’s prior energy.

Every group has to evolve, and Los Campesinos! are no different (they have also seemed to evolved from the odd punctuation that Gareth used to use for song titles like "Don’t Tell Me To Do the Math(s)", or all their exclamation points).  Romance mixed the old, exuberant Campesinos! in songs like the title track (QRO video) and the new, tragic one in "The Sea Is a Good Place To Think of the Future" (QRO video), but Sadness eschews the salad bowl of different flavors for the melting pot of somewhere in between, resulting in something still good, but not quite the Campesinos! you’ve known and loved.

MP3 Stream: "By Your Hand"

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