Rhythm & Views

Los Campesinos!

Essentially, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is not the sophomore album by Welsh septet Los Campesinos! It's more of a collectors' item; it was released in a single pressing and packed with an accompanying DVD documentary about two summer festival appearances; a zine that includes scribblings from Xiu Xiu, Grandaddy and Menomena (among others); and a poster. The get-it-while-you-can, compendium nature of this release makes it difficult to call it a proper follow-up to Hold on Now, Youngster ... , the band's excellent debut. Semantics aside, these 10 tracks are, in many ways, superior to their predecessor.

Recorded in Seattle in June, the album is a triumph of reckless abandon and youthful urgency, though disaster and gloom are the cohesive glue. Opening with the darkly unwieldy "Ways to Make It Through the Wall," the band establishes a breakneck pace and bleak outlook. The fuzzy title track benefits from synth swirls reminiscent of the Flaming Lips, weeping violins and an explosive chorus. It also boasts the album's most brutally honest couplet, sung collectively: "We kid ourselves there's future in the fucking / But there is no fucking future."

For such a young group, Los Campesinos! tackle music that's uplifting in execution and dour in discourse better than many of the elders from whom they are cribbing. For an album that celebrates all possible impending apocalypses and was piecemeal in its construction, it's a damn thrilling and infectious listen.

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