Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness

hello sadness cover

I’m never sure if Los Campesinos are clever and literary or simply use the words of the learned.  Admittedly, the language feels reined in on new album ‘Hello Sadness’, but even without some of their previous dictionary-eating excesses, they will still surely be the only people this year using the words betrothed and jetsam on the same album.

There is enough new feeling for it to not be merely more of the same. Gareth told us as much in advance, declaring that the this time round there would be a more direct pop sound. The opening jagged saw guitar notes on ‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’, the whole instrumentation of the track, could almost have come from the Billy Bragg school of (un)polished production. The percussiveness of ‘Every Defeat A Divorce’ is refreshing too.

What is definitely different is the overall feeling of the piece. Gareth has always been the main man, the leader of the pack. They’ve been at it since 2006, and particularly in recent times, the line-up has had its comings and goings, the latest change being Harriet leaving to continue her studies. I’m not suggesting any of this is unhealthy, far from it. What strikes me forcibly however is that the voice of the band has now evolved to feel much more male, Gareth-mouthed, and less like the jaggy mixed choir of old. Despite his trademark interrogative pitch lift, the question arises whether Gareth’s voice has enough interest to shoulder so much of the load in the way that it is now asked. There will be thousands of devoted fans that will accept this without question, heaven knows I am one of them. Los Camps are one of only two bands to have reduced me to great racking sobs at a gig, and it’s a mark of my love for the band that I’ll even tell you that. And yet I find myself listening to this and experiencing some slight sense of loss. Maybe it will just take time to settle in.

One of the stand-out tracks for me is the heart pulling ‘To Tundra’. Maybe it isn’t that surprising given the surmise that this was a band that could only really write in the face of heart-break and angst, and that these things had arrived in the nick of time to dispel too much happiness, and thus save the song-writing process. Maybe the reason is I like this track is because it’s the nearer in feel to older songs from the ‘Romance Is Boring’ days.

Still I’ll get over myself. As they say, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, and there is lots to love about this album. At its best, there are moments of brilliance. On the title track ‘Hello Sadness’ they are still every young romantic’s dream, telling tales of rings of lipstick around our hero’s finger, and the horrible intimacy of knowing your lover’s saliva trail. They’re still the same but different, growing, and to be admired for it.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.