Los Campesinos! We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (Arts & Crafts) www.loscampesinos.com We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is a difficult album to wrap your head around.
On the one hand, Los Campesinos!' two lead vocalists Gareth and Aleksandra Campesinos have syrupy and consistently beautiful voices--at the same time innocent and tragic. Their voices are strong enough to carry the songs to danceable places full of an infectiousness not many bands can harness.
But on the other hand, the songs on We Are Beautiful are thematically dark, and shouldn't engender this kind of happiness. It's not often, I would imagine, that one might find himself in the mood to shake it when thinking about crying on the floor of a strip club after five years of horrible breakups, surrounded by the literal peeled off scabs that those breakups symbolize. With Titus Andronicus, 9 p.m. tonight at Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington, 713-862-2513 or www.4215washington.com.
But that's what Los Campesinos! has done with their new record. They sing about hopelessness, the bleakness of the future for young people, extorting money from girlfriends' parents, soft-core porn, and the end of the world. But still, you want to dance to it.
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This, their second full-length album is a fuller, more evolved record than their first, Hold On Now, Youngster... (released only seven months prior to We Are Beautiful). The twee-pop tendencies have been replaced by themes of how to find joy in joylessness, faith in a world of corruption.
The first five songs are almost perfect sounding, giving the listener details of a crumbling life; and the last six take that life, flip it, and make sure we all know that with sadness comes possibility. The songs people will remember the most are undoubtedly, "Miserabilia," "Between an Erupting Earth and an Exploding Sky," and especially "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed" -- a song about how physical beauty oftentimes leads to indifference, and the pain that indifference inevitably has on the perceived less beautiful. It is brutal, and it is honest -- feels like a scream put into words.
With We Are Beautiful, Los Campesinos! is changing the somewhat saturated genre of dance pop, and that change couldn't possibly sound better.
Los Campesinos! performs tonight, with Titus Andronicus, at Walter's On Washington.