Sure, but Gareth & Tom as lyricist and songwriter have always seemed to define the core of their sound. I love all the other members and they are vital to the existence and ~Campesinos!~ness of it all but I’ve always had the sense that most of the driving force behind the sound and words has been those two.
Plus, remember the line-up was unchanged through the recording of Romance is Boring.
The biggest change for me was always the departure of Aleks right after the first US tour for RiB (the MTL stop was cancelled because of that volcano, iirc, alas). Mostly because her voice had been such a big presence complementing Gareth and the switch to Gareth’s sister Kim changed the vibe on Hello Sadness.
I miss Ollie a lot, and Jason and Rob have both been solid additions, and the recent departures of Ellen and Harriet for new things and school will definitely impact whatever they do next, but the first three (and even first four) albums have a pretty consistent line-up all things considered.
ETA: I think the quick one-two punch of those first two records in one year and the (relatively) quick follow up after that with Romance is Boring compared to the longer tours and recording processes for the fourth album and the Heat Rash 7”s makes the changes feel like they’ve been going on longer than they have. Hard to imagine that it’s only been five years since the first LP, and three since the third LP.
I think for me it comes down to deciding whether Hello Sadness was a flawed effort bordering on total miss or a sincere expression of where the band is currently at. I suppose they’re not mutually exclusive but the former is more optimistic. Every album has its little differences (like I’m sure I remember reading that Aleks had significantly more control on Romance Is Boring than she did on prior records, which is still not to say she had significant control) but you’re right, Hello Sadness is the real gear change. It’s not because of Kim though; Gareth’s lyrics are just way less incisive. Like, you can tell this was written two weeks before they started recording because it’s so blunt. The cleverest line is about Gareth giving head, and that’s in a song which uses the headboard as a metaphor for headstone. How fucking weak is that? Don’t even get me started on “Life Is A Long Time”. I’m less antipathetic about Tom’s bits. I think musically, “Songs About Your Girlfriend”, “The Black Bird, The Dark Slope”, “Hello Sadness” and “By Your Hand” are among their best (purely on a level of enjoyment; I can’t speak to their technical profundity) even if the album largely lacks the shouty punky vitality of their earlier stuff.
Anyway the point I’m trying to get at with that rant is that if you were to make a compilation of songs to get someone into Los Campesinos!, would you include anything from Hello Sadness?* You could seamlessly position tracks from their first three albums next to each other but even the best tracks from Hello Sadness would mark a notable step down, because one half of the band’s creative force was - or worse, is - off his game.
So if you want to say We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is the band’s most cohesive statement, you’re partially right, but you’re probably talking about a band which doesn’t exist anymore.
* With the exception of b-sides. The exclusion of “Allez Les Blues” tells me one of two things: 1) There’s hope for the future given they’re still capable of a song this good. 2) There’s no hope because the deliberate exclusion represents a direction for the band in which I’m not interested in following.
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- imathers said: Honestly, I listen to Hello Sadness more often than the first three at this point.
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