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Los Campesinos: Making Misery Fun

"I chose hopelessness and inflicted it on the rest of us," Gareth Campesinos sings early in "Ways to Make It Through the Wall," which kicks off Los Campesinos' second excellent album of 2008, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. In "Wall," that bit about hopelessness is joined by other dour aphorisms — "Tolerance is more appealing in theory than in practice" — but the result is a lot more fun that it might seem on paper. In the world of the Welsh septet, bummed-out lyrics and rousing music coexist wonderfully.

Los Campesinos' members get a ton of mileage out of their basic sound, of which "Wall" is a fine example: Gareth and fellow singer Aleksandra Campesinos trade lines over speedy grooves thickened with violins, glockenspiel and messy, Pavement-style guitars. It often seems as if Aleksandra and the band share a function: to prop up or counteract the high-pitched ranting of main singer Gareth, who comes off as an entertaining little twerp with a depressive streak and a bunch of bad memories.

"Ways to Make It Through the Wall" is a winner not only for the band's exuberant playing and for the catchiness of the sugar-rush chorus, but for the smarts and the fervor with which Gareth spits his lines. He's like a hipster Stephen Dedalus on amphetamines, inviting listeners to rejoice in his adeptly expressed unhappiness.

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Christian Hoard