22 April 2010

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

I’m never going to do a Los Campesinos! album review on time am I? It took me two months to review “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” and it’s taken me nearly the same amount for “Romance Is Boring”. Arguments on whether this is LC!’s second or third album will wage between indie kids for eternity (the band consider “WAB,WAD” as an extended EP, not a full album); I’m firmly on the ‘third album’ side if I’m being honest, but I digress.

In the two and a bit years since their debut album, Los Campesinos! have matured into one of the best indie bands around (that’s indie as in independent in sound and ethos, not indie as in The fucking Pigeon Detectives). The twee shackles which plagued them early on have been thrown off and whilst the hyperactive pop playfulness still remains, like a chihuahua in a Kenickie t-shirt, it’s now more streamlined and beefed –up, sounding less disposable and more life-affirming. The bouncy indie pop of old remains for the first half a dozen tracks or so, the title track being the best example of LC!’s evolution. Undeniably more rock than earlier tracks, it contains a chorus catchier than any flu the media choose to chuck on the front page (“You’re pouting in your sleep, I’m waking, still yawning/We’re proving to each other that romance is boring”). Lyrically, the album is superb. Gareth Campesinos! is one of the best lyricists the country has to offer right now, and there are few who can match him for laugh-out-loud moments e.g. “I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock/Feels like the build-up takes forever but you never touch my cock” on “Straight In At 101”, as well as “Plan A”, probably the only song ever about being called up to the Maltese national football team.

Of course, as any LC! fan knows, it’s not all fun and indie-pop frolics, neither musically nor lyrically. Both “In Medias Res” and the aforementioned “Straight In At 101” offer up some pretty depressing imagery (“I phone my friends and family to gather round the television; The talking heads count down the most heart-wrenching break ups of all time/Imagine the great sense of waste, the indignity, the embarrassment when not a single one of that whole century was... mine”). To describe every little nuance and bit of lyrical genius on the album would take quite some time, and would probably be fairly boring. But I will say this; to experience “Romance Is Boring” fully, reading the lyric book along with listening to it is advised (that is if you actually go out and buy it...physically...remember that?).

I’ve gone all this way and not even mentioned “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future”, the album’s highlight of highlights and 5th best song of last year, according to me. Foreboding guitar picking and a lone, mournful violin that begin the track belie the explosion of a chorus that arrives, taking any listener on an aural rollercoaster. If you don’t at least “kind of like” Los Campesinos! after this album then, at the risk of sounding like a rabid fanboy, we can’t even know each other*
*Kidding, of course. I just think this a superb album is all.

SOUNDS LIKE: All of your teenage angst, but more intelligent, witty, deep and catchy. And nothing at all like whiny bitchy emo.
ESSENTIAL: All of it. Seriously.

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