Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness

Stop! Have Los Campesinos! changed or have I changed? Most of the elements are still here: the none-more-indie guitars, the scratch of violins, the tinkle of xylophones, while frontman Gareth still sounds like he's teetering on the precipice of some emotional crisis or other. The words (and, by gum, there are a lot of words) fall from the speakers. But the school jotter scribbles that once enamoured are beginning to prickle, the listener embarrassed for a narrator who "...always made her purr like a cat," especially if "thighs like stallion" are on the menu. And what happened in that "Public loo in a borough of London"? If this was a movie, it'd be rated 18, except no-one aged 19 or over would be allowed into the screening.

For those for whom Los Campesinos! are their favourite band (and you can imagine that happening in a way you can't about Friendly Fires or Bombay Bicycle Club), there is - just - enough musical spark to keep the faith: 'Songs I Wrote About Your Girlfriend' overcomes some of its lyrical clunkers by dint of a nagging hook, while the title track will slot into the live set like an old friend. The brightest moment actually comes on 'The Black Bird, The Dark Slope', no co-incidence that it's also the first time the band's female members are given full voice. But there's an overall annoyance factor that has dulled some of their sheen. "Goodbye courage, hello sadness" is emblematic: where once they could be found kicking off in the park, shouting at a passing police car, LC! now seem a little like the people who'd spoil a party with their personal dramas and leave you to tidy up the mess in the morning.



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