[Arts & Crafts; 2008]

In recent years there hasn’t been much music coming out of Wales to shout about. However, this septet from Cardiff are here to change all that – and they do an awful lot of shouting themselves. Their witty and self-deprecating lyrics, which have been known to reference anyone and anything from Dave Rollins to Spiderman, come completely out of left field. The wide range of influences, from their home in Cardiff to bands from thousands of miles away, can be heard in past releases but most prominently in their debut full-length Hold On Now, Youngster, released earlier this year. Riding high on that momentum, they have plunged headfirst into a second album a mere six months later, with mixed results.

The juxtaposition of the phrases “we are beautiful” and “we are doomed” is a nice reflection of the Los Campesinos! sound: laying down pessimistic lyrics over the top of bright, bouncy and most obviously fun music. It certainly gives their songs a character that no other band has managed to replicate.

The album begins with the appropriately titled “Ways to Make it Through the Wall” which takes this foolish notion and smashes it to pieces. Exploding like a dog out of a trap, the exuberance shown by these young guys and girls from Wales is highly commendable. This enthusiasm continues through the first three tracks.

It’s at this point that the album hits a stumbling block and the consistency starts to drop off. The middle section of the album is a lot mellower than the three-song opening salvo, but that’s not to say that there’s nothing worth hearing here. “It’s Never That Easy Though, Is It?” tells the story of a relationship that is doomed from the outset and it includes an unbelievably catchy refrain that you’ll find yourself singing or whistling along to after only a few listens. “Documented Emotional Breakdown #1” is equally delightful, with lovely “ooh aah” vocals complementing an uncharacteristically wordless chorus.

If their debut album, Hold On Now, Youngster, could be said to be their “falling in love” album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is most definitely their “breaking up” album. Each song tells an individual story that is brought to life through melodramatic vocals and hilarious, spiteful lyrics like “I walked into the room to see my ex-girlfriend/ who by the way I’m still in love with/ sucking the face of some pretty boy/ with my favourite band’s most popular song in the background/ is it wrong that I can’t decide which bothers me most?”

Cynics out there may claim that this album is nothing more than a bunch of leftovers from their debut album, and while throwaway tracks such as ‘Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time’ and the ambient interlude ‘Between an Erupting Earth and An Exploding Sky’ might prove as evidence to this way of thinking, but this criticism is not entirely fair. It is fair to say that We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is no more than part two of their debut. There has been essentially no progression between the two records, but in such a short space of time and so early in their career, it would be unfair to expect there to have been much.