Album Review: Hello Sadness by Los Campesinos!

By Drake Myers

Los Campesinos! are back, this time with three new members (for a total of seven). “Hello Sadness”, the Cardiff band’s new release, continues their lyrical trail of melancholy and heartbreaks from their last two albums but seems a lot more emotionally effective to me than before. There’s just something uncomfortable about Gareth’s lyrics that makes them fascinating to follow. They go against modern indie convention; whereas most indie pop acts are writing towards a sense of universal sentimentality and nostalgia, Gareth writes very personal and specific lyrics, almost always about the toils of his romanticism and ideals. One helpful point of comparison, I think, is Arcade Fire. In a very strange way I felt very similar listening to “Hello Sadness” as I did when I listened to “Funeral.” (Which is weird.) The new album is in the constant presence of death, usually as a sort of melodramatic metaphor for breakup and modern romance. What the two really share is a profound, desperate longing for meaningful companionship to the point where the world seems meaningless without it. With that said, the lyrics on “Hello Sadness” way more closely resemble teenage Myspaces and Tweets than they do Winn Butler’s whimsy. In the end this made me feel closer to Gareth than I ever did with the speakers in AF songs. “Hello Sadness” made me sympathize and feel companionship with Gareth as a fellow toiler. I’d recommend this album as an experience: whether to listen to every lyrical swoop or just as background music. The powerpop singalongs and indie collective sound can be tons of fun, although sometimes the lyrics can be a bit embarrassing to have on in public. (On the lead single from the album, “By Your Hand”, the singer repeats “Graceful, gracious companion with your eyes of doe and thighs of stallion”, which seems to me a lot harder to sing along to than a lot of indie rock hooks these days, almost Shakespearian in its carnal humor.) None of this really matters, though, because while Los Campesinos! are spouting mostly overemotional cliches, they allow the listener to arrive at those cliches with them, so yeah, it’s transcendant.