REVIEW: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

396 romance is boring

“Romance Is Boring” Is the second album from the sextet commonly known as Los Campesinos, in the interest of fairness and all things unbiased I must let you know I AM wearing a Los Campesinos shirt, from when I saw them live, just throwing that out there. But seriously I’ll be cool.

“In Medias Ras” opens up in the shape of a “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” super anthem before building into a stomping indie ride, Gareth proves that he is, above all a magnificent and clear lyric writer, “But lets talk about you for a minute/with the vomit in your gullet/from a half bottle of vodka that we’d stolen from the optic/in the backseat of your car/because it wasn’t safe to start it/”You’re far too fucked to drive” were the words that you imparted” cry’s Gareth at the start as violins swirl in a haze of banging drums and xylophone twinkles on top of the sound of six people making noise before a odd middle section cuts in, breaking the flow in typical Pavement style before breaking back through for a triumphant brass section in the most epic way imaginable, a bold statement to make at the start of your album as Gareth throws down the last lyrics “If you were given the option of dieing painlessly in peace at 45/but with a lover at your side/after a full and happy life/is this something what would interest you?/Would this interest you at all?” its going to be a tough act to follow. Second sorta-maybe-single from the album “There Are Listed Buildings” throws up the pace with chanting ba-ba’s, and a solidly danceable beat that proves to be one of the biggest growers from the entire album.

And from there its on to the title track “Romance Is Boring” does away with the complicated layers and often twee sound that has covered the previous ep’s and albums for their most direct song yet “You’re pouting in your sleep/im waking still yawning/we’ve proven to each other that romance is boring” they shout as guitars thrash around and the girl/boy combination of Gareth and Aleks comes up trumps again. “We’ve Got Your Back” takes a different route, more carefully planned but no less welcome than the former, even throwing in a doe eyes reference for the old school fans before the eminently chantable “I’ve learnt more from toilet walls than I’ve learnt from these words of yours” it does sound like a live favorite in the making despite having a slow ending. Sadly (Although I’ve been told im wrong) Plan A misses the mark, going for a vastly heavier sound than found on previous albums, its not like LC cant do angry, its just it feels forced in this occasion which leads us into “200-102” a haunting acoustic break from the heavy sounds previously and serves as an extended intro to possible album highlight “Straight in at 101” see what you did there guys. “I think we need more post coital and less post rock” whines Gareth over the sounds of guitars that sound like the audible equivalent to the pre sex energy build up, its Los Campesinos, but like much of the album its an expansion of previously tinkered with ideas, there’s less fear than in the previous albums, oozing confidence from every beat. It also draws attention to just how good Ollie is on drums, tieing all these different elements together in every song is a real feat, well done, Ollie.

“Who fell asleep in” is the most lyrically audacious song Los Campesinos have ever made “In a note I read/”If you should go blind and deaf/I’ll cleanse and I’ll bathe you and I’ll cook for you daily./I will take a dry ballpoint pen and trace on your chest/All of the same conversations we have now in bed”/I don’t mean to be selfish, but I think I’d sooner just be dead”” a song about converting church girls to his sex toys, later we get Gareth’s note “In a note I wrote, “I think too much about the end/But being around it made me feel like I’m coping now/When I view the cemetery/I don’t see headstones/I see rows of engraved middle teeth, hungry/waiting for me/And though I am fearful, I think I just crave the relief”” its a beautifully odd ballad of heartbreak and death. “I warned you do not make an enemy of me” feels like the bastardization of “Plan A” and “There are listed buildings” and comes out looking rosy, proof that LC can do pissed without resorting to shouting over noise. “Heart Swells/100-1” is another intermission before “I just sighed. I just sighed, just so you know” throws its weight around, filled with several hands in the air moments, every part is perfectly arranged to form more than it should, epic could be term.

A heart rash in the shape of the show me state or, letter between me and Charlotte” feels mildly surplus to need, feeling like it had been covered earlier in the album but really, its nitpicking in the grand scale of how the album pans out in its entirety, it doesn’t occupy much space in the memory but its a fun ride before the gorgeous acoustic/violin extravaganza that is “The sea is a good place to think of the future” a ballad of everyone’s favourite video game master and part time drug taking anorexic, trying to get over the death of her mother. Its a push that Gareth has made for more literal lyrics to stop them being misconstrued and read into more than they should be, the pay off is immense, a slow burning epic that builds to a unstoppable point. “This is a flag. There Is No Wind” is their last chance at a proper pop song, a high energy but typically dark in the tone of its lyrics, one last hurrah for energy, like the last jump around song at a party before the come down songs get put on as everyone slouches down, the sound of which is finale “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State” rumbling synth below twinkling xylophone and crunching drums, with the chant “I cant believe I chose the mountains every time you chose the sea…” as noise builds up and up before that’s all we have left.

Striking a middle ground between “Hold On Now, Youngster” and EP “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed”, “Romance Is Boring” marks a massive expansion of sound and ability, its tender moments are more scarce than in WAB,WAD and the lyrical prowess is vastly superior to “Hold On Now” but crucially, its still Los Campesinos and it is absolutely superb, you have absolutely no excuse not to own this album. Or to listen to it as its now streaming here. Sure, its a couple of songs too long for an all in one gulp but the sound produced is just stunning. The race to own 2010 is on.

9.5/10