A Slice of Fried Gold

Review: Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Los Campesinos! released their debut LP Hold On Now, Youngster in 2008, I was very impressed with the seven piece band from Cardiff, Wales. Sure, it was a little all over the place, but good lord they really did a hell of a job of capturing their madcap energy all in one place. Then they did it again just 33 weeks later with their "EEP" (extended EP, they said it wasn't a full album) We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, and they'd really earned themselves a full time fan in yours truly.

Predictably, they somewhat fell off the face of the Earth (for them), as they didn't release anything for almost a full year! When "These Are Listed Buildings" and "The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future" in the latter half of 2009, we were given throwbacks to both previous releases. "Buildings" captured the restless energies of their debut while "Sea" captured the verbosity and more assured songwriting of their latter release.

These two tracks are highlights of their most recent release Romance is Boring (released today in the United States), which doubles as their best release to date as well.

While it isn't quite as loaded with standout tracks as their previous albums, it is more of a cohesive whole. Better yet, they've managed to whittle down their sound to build a stronger identity. They've taken the best aspects of previous albums and focused on them, and what that results in is a melodic and chaotic mix of twee sounding orchestral rock. That probably sounds like nothing to you, but to me it sounds like Los Campesinos!. Throw in a veritable cavalcade of new instruments (I suppose they had to find something to do with all of their members), giving us glockenspiel here, horns there, handclaps, and basically anything you can make a rhythm too, and you have a more complex and accomplished album than they've released before.

This is an album that finds the band dialing down the center on their last two albums while building on lead singer Gareth's verbosity. Even the song titles are long on this album, with tracks called "A Heat Rash In The Shape Of The Show Me State Or, Letters From Me To Charlotte" and "I Warned You Do Not Make An Enemy Of Me" appearing on the album. This is a man who obviously has a lot to say, whether it's about love, sex, death, or football, it doesn't matter - he'll say it and he'll say it at length. This length allows for some incredible lyrical moments, such as this bit from "Straight in at 101" when he laments:

"Some people give themselves to religion, Some people give themselves to a cause, Some people give themselves to a lover, I have to give myself to girls."
Oh how I relate to that little nugget. It's nice to know that given all of his gusto for lyrical exuberance, Gareth doesn't forget to make his words count when need be.

All in all, this is an album that makes every moment count. While it is definitely not something I can listen to always and it does drag a bit in the middle section (I think the heavier they get the worse off they are), it is a very well crafted album and a good capturing of their "shot out of a cannon" energy that they are so good at showing off.

Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring: B

If you'd like to check it out for yourself, don't miss the stream that is up at Lala.


Troy Olson said...

Glad to hear this is worth trying out -- I liked "Hold On Now" quite a bit, so I'll be sure to check this out. And keep up the music reviews...I'm always woefully behind on what's coming out and worth giving a try. Case in point, I'm still catching up on stuff that was released in early 2009.

David Harper said...

Thanks a lot! Yeah, I'm planning on highlighting my favorite release every week with occasional extra reviews if I feel saucy. I'm trying to rediscover my bloggy niche. I'm having a bit of a blogger identity crisis right now. :)

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