Listening to Los Campesinos!’ upcoming “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” straight through is like consuming all of your Halloween candy at once: sugary-sweet and then horrible. You are raised to the giddiest of highs by the band’s synth hooks, only to be dropped by their lyrics. “I think it’s fair to say that I chose hopelessness and inflicted it on the rest of us.” Oh my. In the end you are left perplexed on how something so fun can leave you feeling so incredibly awful.
This odd juxtaposition of moods works best in the title track. Opening with a cacophony of reverberating synthesizers, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” conjures up images of a Super Nintendo getting ready to throw itself off a cliff, and we soon find out that’s where this relationship is going as well — Singer Gareth Campesinos! then drags listeners through an excruciating tale of a love sputtering towards a tragic end. “Miserabilia,” another standout song from the album, manages to address the theme of abandoned amour by allowing the music and delivery to guide the song. Lyrics like “Shout at the world because the world doesn’t love you/Lower yourself because you know that you have to” could so easily fall into that realm populated by middle-class preteens with an overabundance of eyeliner. Yet the fervor with which Gareth shouts the lines allows “Miserabilia” to transcend whiny emo-dom to become a truly superior song.
The mix of pop and devastating lyrics is reminiscent of Los Campesinos!’ last album, “Hold On Now, Youngster…” With that debut, the Cardiff, Wales band developed the schtick they continue in this second album: a mix of Pete Doherty’s wit, Broken Social Scene’s instrumental lineup and The White Stripes’ haunting boy/girl harmonies. With songs lamenting on love and bemoaning the misfortune of youth over high-energy violin riffs and a glockenspiel, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” sounds so similar to their past work that it could easily be mistaken as a continuation of their previous album rather than a stand-alone work. Lucky for Los Campesinos!, this same is still captivating.
If they keep producing music like this, they just might not be so doomed after all.