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Los Campesinos!

Romance Is Boring

[Arts & Crafts; 2010]

By ; February 2, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Lead singer of divisive Welsh outfit Los Campesinos!, Gareth, is a spiky and passionate character, as anybody who witnessed his lash-out on Twitter and subsequent apology surrounding the leak of this album can attest to. It’s this passion, combined with a seemingly never ending source of killer hooks, that makes this band stand out from the crowd, and on their third album, Romance Is Boring, Los Campesinos! have taken these elements and made a fearless bound forward.

For the first half of this album it seems as though the band are hell-bent on proving that their mission statement “romance is boring” is true. They do this with a slew of songs containing references to sex, drunken antics, deceit and breakups. Nowhere here is there anything remotely romantic to be found.

Listening to Gareth Campesinos preach about sexual encounters publicly and mirthfully may seem somewhat indecent, but the way that it’s presented is so irresistible that you will find yourself being dragged along for the ride. The public airing of this dirty laundry is so engrossing because it’s not the kind of thing that is often shared so openly, and the way he rips apart his former partners with mockingly melodramatic lines like “woe betide your listed heart” and the chiding “I’ve learned more from toilet walls than I’ve learned from these words of yours” seems so freeing. How many times have you wanted to tell a person exactly what you think of them, but held your tongue because you’re afraid of what people will make of you? Well Gareth doesn’t give a fuck, and he’ll tell you so. It’s these narcissistic fantasies that we can all live out through Gareth’s words that make this fun. All of this comes packaged with the band’s lively tunes; guitars, drum machines, gang vocals, chimes, bells, horns, huge choruses and manic melodies are included as standard. Five tracks in and so far, so good. At the best of instances such as “There Are Listed Buildings,” it’s extremely good, perhaps the best the band have ever done, but it’s nothing particularly new.

There is a loose narrative that can be attributed to this album, and it’s around the midpoint, in “Straight in at 101,” that the protagonist in this tale seems to lose faith in his philanderous ways and to try something different, perhaps turning to monogamy. This transitionary period also coincides, in a couple of instances, with the band trying something different musically. “Who Fell Asleep In” is a slower, moodier version of their usual sound that is a little dull, but the frenetic violin and dissonant noise-rock injections to “I Just Sighed, I Just Sighed, Just So You Know” add an element of grit to an otherwise standard LC! song, making it one of the most interesting and anthemic songs on the album. This mid-section gives way to the heartfelt run-in of the album, where the band slows it down and allow Gareth to pour out his heart, unveiling his true inner feelings. This includes the slow-building and strings-laden “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future,” which finds our leading man imploring somebody he is seemingly and tragically in love with to pull her life together before it’s too late. It’s a magnificent song, guaranteed to tug at the heart strings and one that will take some topping by the band in the future.

Romance Is Boring is 15 tracks and clocks in at just over 48 minutes, which is a long time for a band that are best known for writing three-minute blasts of energy, but the album does not outstay its welcome. There are a couple of tracks in the middle portion of the album that drag down its consistency and may have been better off on the cutting room floor, but taken as a whole it triumphs. The craft, ambition and passion shown not just by Gareth, but by all members, are what make this album great, and undoubtedly their best yet.


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