Moving on to more important things: for the past week, I’ve had a copy of Hello Sadness, the new Los Campesinos! album. And it’s quite good. This comes as something of a crushing disappointment. I suppose my problem stems from what the band means to me; they’re likely to be that scary thing - the last new band that I get wrapped up in. The last band that I make sure to visit on every tour. The last band that I sign up for a membership club. The last band that really cuts deep into me. I can remember how Hold on Now, Youngster soundtracked my Quixotic attempt to design, edit, and write a 100-page book in about three days, singing along to Knee Deep at ATP at 3am in the morning (and yes, as it turned out, it was very appropriate). There was the thrill of being at the Electric Ballroom in 2008 where Gareth sang the start of Kenickie’s Millionaire Sweeper as an intro to You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing, and there was the time in 2009 where I listened to The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future over 150 times in a week (there was context to that, but yes, it was an odd time). I’m a subscriber to Heat Rash, and heck, I even sent them a box of hand-made chocolates before I left the UK. I am, a fanboy on the level that I haven’t been since I scrawled gushing praise about Johnny Boy, or when I wore glitter and went to Kenickie concerts.
(no pictures exist of the latter events, by the way. THIS IS A GOOD THING.)
My first thought about the new album was that this is Gareth’s record. My second thought was the niggling feeling that something was missing. Something didn’t feel quite right. Given the notoriety over my music collection, it took me three listens for it to whack me over the head - it’s missing Aleks. While Kim Campesinos makes an appearance in The Black Bird, The Dark Slope, most of the female vocals on the album are relegated to backing. This is Gareth’s record.
And so it doesn’t quite work for me - I loved the interplay between Gareth and Aleks on the previous records, bouncing each other, fighting over different sides of the channel, but all of that seems to be gone. To be fair, you can look at the last three albums (we’re dropping the pretense that We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed isn’t an album, right?) and see the progression to this point, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.
And yet; perhaps the annoying thing is that I like the album, I really do. Songs About Your Girlfriend is typical Gareth in Straight In At 101 mode, funny whilst being romantically tragic, and yes, I’ve come to love the Hello Sadness chorus. But the back half of the album is only slowly growing on me, unlike the immediate rush of the previous albums.
(also, there’s no brilliant song titles this time around. You have to love a band that can pull of a title like This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics”) or _A Heat Rash in the Shape of The Show Me State; or Letters from Me to Charlotte. The new album can only offer Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions) which promises more than it can sadly deliver)
Still, I’m rather upset that I’m not going to be able to see them in DC this week. But I will be seeing All Your Science in my front room, which is exciting all by itself. And I now even have flight details. I’m really leaving here on Friday, if only for a week…