After the disaster of their previous album, Romance Is Boring, it would have been easy to write off Los Campesinos! and consign them to the scrap heap populated with bands that burned brightly and then lost it all in a flash. Amazingly, Hello Sadness reverses the downward spiral and sounds like something of a rebirth for the band. Despite recording again with John Goodmanson and still being resolutely morose and poetic, the band plays with far more energy and spirit here. It's not on the level of manic passion they displayed in the early stages of their career, but songs like "Songs About Your Girlfriend" and "The Black Bird, the Dark Slope" careen with a hyperactive energy that's impressive for any band, much less one that had been presumed comatose. The fury of the uptempo tracks gives the slower, more sluggish songs more emotional power by contrast, and the whole album has a vibrant dynamic appeal that was missing from Romance. A lot of the credit goes to vocalist Gareth, who has reined in the raw edges of his voice and sings with more command and power. His words, too, are less raw and awkward as he details heartbreak, sadness, and the frustrations of trying to live a passionate life with a sharper eye and less hysteria. The rest of the band responds with tightly wound performances that range from the slow burn of "Hate for the Island" to the tender balladry of "Light Leaves, Dark Sees, Pt. 2" and the up-and-down "Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)," where the guitars rage behind Gareth's vocals with a newfound electric power. This album is an improvement over Romance in almost every way, and almost is enough to restore the faith of fans set adrift by the band's sudden decline. They may never make a record as unhinged and beautiful as Hold on Now, Youngster..., but if they keep making records as tough and exciting as Hello Sadness, Los Campesinos! will always be worth keeping up with.