Published Nov 22, 2011Populated with plenty of carnage, the third proper LP from boisterous Brit tweemo platoon Los Campesinos! features scattered carrion, birds devouring guts ("The Black Bird, The Dark Slope") and a singer strung up in a slaughterhouse ("Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. II"). Naturally, it's a break-up record. On Hello Sadness, Gareth Campesinos! is in a dark place, though he hasn't lost his trademark yelp and lyrical dexterity. "Life is a Long Time" blends geography and an aging face to detail a romance gone wrong. "Songs About Your Girlfriend" turns snotty provocation into a bittersweet lament. And "Hate for the Island" manages to wring sentiment from light drug use and a hypothetical flood. Rendering each with acrobatic poetry, the frontman stays away from emo trappings while his sunnier cohorts keep things buoyant. Showing off more musical maturity than ever before, the seven-piece fill each track with subtle nuances. A faraway glockenspiel on "Songs About Your Girlfriend," vital strings on "Life is a Long Time" and the orchestral wistfulness of "Hate for the Island" are all judiciously restrained. Nevertheless, the combo are still capable of going huge. "To Tundra" builds to a sweeping dénouement and "The Black Bird, The Dark Slope" races to a thrilling crescendo. Bleak yet still ebullient, Hello Sadness is Los Campesinos!'s richest record so far.
Hello Sadness starts with "By Your Hand," which is essentially about an eventual ending?
Gareth: It's about knowing that somebody's going to be the death of you. It's about embarking on a relationship that you know is doomed from the start, but not resisting that, which, sadly, I think, is most relationships, for a realist and a pessimist like myself.
It's an overtly personal album. Has there been any backlash?
No, not at all. The person that it concerns is very understanding. Despite inevitable elements that are upsetting, she likes it and she's happy. That's important, to me. There's a responsibility to not let my will affect anybody else negatively. I think my main intention is truth and honesty, and I wouldn't want to paint myself as this innocent hero who's been wronged because that just wouldn't be true.
Much of the imagery is pretty graphic ― birds feasting on guts, you hanging in an abattoir. It's a bit like a metal record.
I guess a lot of my favourite authors generally err towards the slightly morbid and dark. My headspace, at the time, is quite well represented. At the time of writing the record, sort of dealing with depression, it puts you in this place where images and thoughts like that make a lot of sense.
The cover art does a pretty good job of representing that.
Certainly. I think so. A sparse, snowy landscape and the suggested loss of innocence, with the inclusion of the kids, I think works well.
Is it a shot of a sunrise or a sunset?
It's a sunset, I believe, which is appropriate. (Arts & Crafts)