CD Review: Los Campesinos!, Hello Sadness

With their fourth studio album Hello Sadness, Los Campesinos! completes a seamless transition from childish antics into comfortable maturity. And so the titular sadness could be that of a parent watching their child grow into an independent being.

The simplification of a once very crowded sound is pleasing to the ear, and though I miss the toe tapping excitement I felt with every track on 2008’s Hold on Now, Youngster…, I am comforted by the continued growth in the lyrics and vocals of lead man Gareth Campesinos. Witty imagery and innuendo has begun to show the dark and cruel nature of the adult world.

Lighthearted pop songs like “By Your Hand” and “Songs About Your Girlfriend” maintain some of the youthful wit of early works and transition smoothly into the soulful introspection of “Hate for the Island” and “Life is a Long Time.”

A deeper examination of teenage angst breathing into mid-twenties cynicism can be heard on “Baby I got the Death Rattle” and “Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. II,” while tracks like “The Black Bird, the Dark Slope” and “To Tundra” show us that not all hope is lost, but the future comes with a warning.

The catchy-fun, punk rock sentiment of songs like the 2008 “You! Me! Dancing!” and “Romance is Boring,” from 2010, are absent on Hello Sadness. The wisdom of age and experience has crept in for these U.K. pop rockers who describe the album as “an honest, bare bones documentation of breaking up and trying not to break up in the process.” Hello Sadness seems to strum at the depths of emotion, and while I maintain it has to do with the maturation of a rather youthful group, one can’t deny that the departure of drummer Ollie in 2010 and violinist Harriet this past July has affected the remaining members and changed the face, sound, and soul of this group for the better.

★★★★ (out of five)