Arts & Crafts
If the news about a new album from indie rockers Los Campesinos! gave you a sense of dƒ©jƒ vu, you’re probably not alone.
“We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” which was released on October 27, marks the Welsh septet’s second full-length release in 2008; their debut album, “Hold On Now, Youngster” dropped in February. (Perhaps Axl Rose could borrow a page from their playbook?)
The group formed at Cardiff University and evolved from a trio into a seven-person powerhouse in 2006, with a final lineup consisting of Neil, Ollie, Ellen, Tom, Gareth, Harriet and Aleks (all use the stage surname Campesinos!).
After spending much of the early part of 2008 touring behind “Hold On Now” the band entered the studio immediately after wrapping up their time on the road and recorded “We Are Beautiful” in just two weeks.
Perhaps as a result of that timeline, the record feels slightly rushed, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. The band has assured fans that the 10-song collection is not merely a sampling of leftovers that didn’t make the final cut for “Hold On Now, Youngster” “" which isn’t to say that the tracks on both albums don’t sound like they could be from the same recording session.
Los Campesinos! take full advantage of their seven-musician roster on songs like the swelling the standout title track and euphoric opener “Ways to Make It Through a Wall.” But on others, it sounds like the instruments are competing for attention rather than enhancing each other, with some getting lost in the shuffle. More than a couple tracks feel like they could benefit from fewer creative minds.
The hipster mindset reflected in the album’s title is upheld throughout. It’s the perfect soundtrack for two kids in skinny jeans to fall in love or break up to, with verses like “I walked into the room to see my ex-girlfriend / Who, by the way, I’m still in love with / Suckin’ the face of some pretty boy / With my favorite band’s most popular song in the background” wailed over distorted guitars, frenetic violins, and a glockenspiel. At times, Gareth’s singing accent borders on Cockney, evoking memories of old-school British punk acts like The Only Ones.
With a name that translates to mean “the farmers” Los Campesinos! have already had a boom harvest in 2008. And they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.