Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Los Campesinos! Are Beautiful, Doomed, Awesome

By Evan Rytlewski
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If Los Campesinos'! debut album was the work of adolescents feverish with the possibility of easy sex, their transfixing follow-up is the work of curmudgeonly young adults who've learned there's no such thing. On We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, singer Gareth Campesinos'! eager erection has been replaced by a thundercloud that hovers above his head, trailing him. The sometimes cloying cuteness of the band's debut is disgorged here, and even the violin and glockenspiel that once cheered on Gareth now taunt him, accenting his romantic failures.

On track after track, he hits rock bottom. He breaks down sobbing on the naked breasts of an ex-girlfriend, then tortures himself with the memory: "I can only guess that she thinks about it when she touches herself." He footnotes a mention of another ex by noting he's still in love with her, nonchalantly, as if it were already implied. And he drunk dials these exes all too often. In one of the record's few moments of redemption, Gareth gives thanks for the embarrassing sentiments he had the control to keep to himself. "Think about the things I'm glad I left out," he sings. The very suggestion is enough to make you queasy.

Los Campesinos! certainly aren't the first band to channel such humiliation and self-loathing, but they're one of the few that could capture it on an album this sportive, this rich and entertaining. In a way that only the very best indie-rock can, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed cuts deep and cauterizes in the same stroke.

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