Detail illustration from the cover of the North Carolina State Fair - Let the Good Times Grow! booklet, 1937
You can practically see Welsh indie-poppers Los Campesinos! growing up in their album titles, which form a dramatic arc of sorts: Hold on Now Youngster...,We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed, Romance Is Boring, and now Hello Sadness. Interestingly, though, the band's maturing outlook and lyrics (as presented by frontman Gareth Campesinos) are not matched exactly by the music composed by the band's instrumental maestro Tom Campesinos, who (fortunately) has not strayed too far from the band's infectious mix of bouncy guitar lines, glockenspiel, and shouty gang vocals, tweaking the formula in more subtle ways instead.
So what has changed with Hello Sadness? For one, you have the addition of Kim Campesinos, Gareth's sister, whose vocals are a nice complement to her sibling's. And then there's the album's singularly tragedian bent - the opening track "By Your Hand" is one of the Campesinos' best singles to date, but it's the moment of euphoria you get when you step off the ledge, and the rest of the album is the fall into the abyss. However, except for a couple songs that get too maudlin ("Life Is a Long Time", "Hate for the Island"), the album's dark drama is a pretty fun listen. The album's darkest track, "Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)", is not about romance at all, funnily enough - it's about the unique pain of soccer fandom (which led me to briefly formulate a theory that the whole album is an extended metaphor about soccer). Gareth's eloquence in the language of heartbreak does a lot of the heavy lifting here, which is no surprise, particularly on tracks like the great title track, which evokes the disturbing image of an eternally bleeding heart fed constantly by vain hope.
"Hello Sadness" by Los Campesinos!