Release Date: Nov 25, 2008
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Los Campesinos! are a Wales-based septet of young best-Friendsters who specialize in boy-girl harmonies, xylophone solos, and lyrics about The Breakfast Club, and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is full of half-heartfelt, half-hilarious songs that capture the rush of being young in a noisy new century. On ”It’s Never That Easy Though, Is It,” singer Gareth phones a crush but only gets ”another stupid ringtone.” We’ll take this over Crazy Frog any day. A Download This: Listen to the song ”Miserabilia” at last.fm .
You have to hand it to Los Campesinos! In one fell swoop they’ve vaulted past the difficult-second-album stage, solidified fan support and moved from promising straight on to precocious. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is no Hold On Now, Youngster…—it can’t possibly be, really—but any band capable of making two separate (not thematically linked, not a double album), good (and not just tolerable or passable, but good) albums in one year is something special. In this case, Los Campesinos! are something special in a way that makes me extremely nervous.
Second albums are supposed to be harder to pull off than this, especially when a band's debut was so enthusiastically received and so much indie rock hope was hung on their shoulders. For Los Campesinos! to come up with such a strong follow-up not even a year after their last is an amazing feat. This time around they sound a bit more desperate, even a bit angry.
Anyone expecting a sophomore slump or a drop-off in quality due to the nature of its somewhat sudden appearance (who makes two albums a year anymore?) will find themselves sorely disappointed by Los Campesinos! second album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. Or maybe that should read happily surprised since the group delivers another exciting record with enough feverish energy to power a mid-size metropolitan area for a week. This is an entirely different kind of album, though, much of the joy and fun the band dished out previously like free samples at a supermarket has been drained away and replaced with anger, unease, and miserabilia.
Another round from Cardiff's finest. For a band singularly possessed by a ramshackle and manic pop sensibility, Los Campesinos! finds plenty of opportunity on We are Beautiful, We are Doomed to add fresh coats of paint to their idiosyncratic sound. There are handclaps and fist pumps aplenty, and more than one track makes good use of the familiar violin and guitar point-counterpoint before resolving into seismic breakdowns and bon mots, such as this one, from the album's title track: “We kid ourselves there’s future in the fucking / but there is no fucking future.
The history of UK pop is built on melancholy and loneliness. Even New Order put a pretty face on Manchester gloom. Those days of darkness are officially over if Welsh sevenpiece Los Campesinos! has anything to do with it. Second LP We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed continues on the path blazed by their 2008 debut, all urgent joy, jubilation, and communion.