Here’s a confession: it’s half two in the afternoon and I’ve listened to Hello Sadness by Los Campesinos! three times today already. Now I’m onto my fourth. Like their last three records, Hello Sadness is ridiculously addictive, as addictive as Pringles, maybe more so.
Anyone familiar with 2010’s Romance Is Boring will know what to expect from this latest offering: songs about sex, death and football, but this time without the football and, if you’ll believe it, more of the sex. To some this may sound disappointing given the massive leaps in style between the bands’ other releases to date: from the anarchic cartoon party of Hold On Now, Youngster to the enveloping solipsism of We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed and last year’s foot-stomping blaze of sophistication.
The most surprising thing about Hello Sadness, in fact, is that there are few surprises. But, for one album at least, that might not be so bad a thing. Call it a strong sequel. Call it a consolidation. Call it whatever: the important thing is that it’s here and it’s good. The things Los Campesinos! have always done well: the pulsing dynamics, the grammatically complex verses, the shout-along choruses – they’re all there and better than ever.
But the thing that makes it so gloriously addictive is the way each song, and the album as a whole, is arranged. Los Campesinos! are very generous artists, always giving us a pay-off where a pay-off is promised. When instruments drop in a middle eight, the reprise of the chorus will be louder than ever; whenever one line gives us a guiding image, the next lines will answer in the same scheme. For every bit of light, there’s a handy bit of shade – for every shadow, a glimmer of light.
Trouble is the finale ‘Light Leaves, Dark Sees pt II’ is such a lovely wind-down it seems to demand another pick-me-up and for some reason my iPod’s set to repeat. And is that the bar of synth that launches into the keyboard of opening track ‘By Your Hand’? You know, I think it is. Oh well, five listens of a Los Campesinos! record a day is good for you right? Or is that pieces of fruit? I forget. All I know is that I’ve got Hello Sadness, a tube of Pringles and a free afternoon. I could be a while.
Words: Tom Moyser