When: Fri., Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m. 2012
A contingent of Los Campesinos! fans will probably always clamor for a return to the twee-pop days of Hold On Now, Youngster . . . , but the band has long outgrown its sugary bounciness and rampant glockenspiel use. ("You! Me! Dancing!," the frisky number in that Budweiser commercial, is an old one.) In case 2010's Romance Is Boring weren't evidence enough, the fourth full-length from the seven Campesinos, Hello Sadness (Wichita), is even darker than the third. Front man Gareth Campesinos retains his talent for biting, self-deprecating lyrics—aided, of course, by a recent breakup—and the music aches without feeling obnoxiously forlorn. With its hand claps and glowing harmonies, opener "By Your Hand" sounds a bit like early Campesinos, but the difference now is that the sunny stuff feels out of character—the title track, for instance, is a mature indie single through and through, with an incongruously danceable, radio-friendly rhythm, driving guitar, strings, and painfully honest lyrics from Gareth ("It's hope that springs eternal / And that's the reason why / This dripping from my broken heart / Is never going to dry"). I needed some time to warm to Romance Is Boring, but Hello Sadness won me over quickly, in part because the band seems so self-aware. I'm done waiting to see if Los Campesinos! will slip up as they age. They've already survived the waning of the early hype around them and a big change in their sound—if it hasn't happened by now, it's not going to. —Kevin Warwick
Parenthetical Girls' most recent recording, Parenthetical Girls Save Christmas, may have a whole lot of sleigh bells on it, but you shouldn't let the fact that the holidays are over (or the fact that Christmas songs are by and large complete garbage) keep you from listening if you haven't already. The three-song EP (available as a pay-what-you-want download at Parenthetical Girls' Bandcamp page) is the same kind of deviously intelligent and darkly perverse pop they've been releasing for years, and mastermind Zac Pennington has a gift for bringing out the most emotionally fucked-up qualities of any topic he tackles. Recommended if you've ever wondered what kind of Christmas record Jarvis Cocker would make on a painkiller bender. —Miles Raymer Los Campesinos! headline; Parenthetical Girls open.