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  -  Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=1533661)

Jeremy Aaron 01/28/10 01:12 PM

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring
 
Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring
Record Label: Arts & Crafts
Release Date: January 26, 2010

So I was at the gym the other night, and one of the huge TV screens was showing some nameless pundit jabbering on Fox News. Thankfully, for the sake of my sanity, I couldn't hear the words he was speaking, but I was struck by a quote scrolling across the bottom of the screen. A spokesperson for House Minority Leader John Boehner compared the President's proposed spending freeze to "going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest." It's interesting Ol' Boner would choose such an analogy. Regardless of your political thoughts, in terms of pie-eating, wouldn't practicing some restraint after such a period of indulgence be advisable? What would Los Campesinos! have to say on the matter? Given their output thus far, one would imagine that their stance on the need to strike a sense of balance would be something along the lines of :-p , but their latest album Romance Is Boring is actually a surprising display of depth.

Make no mistake, there's still enough of their trademark herky-jerky rhythms and sharp witticisms to go around, but at times, like on the album opener "In Medias Res", the Welsh septet sound a little less exuberant. Even the slower moments have their fair share of horns, strings and chimes to keep things interesting, though. Los Campesinos! still bring hooks aplenty with the album's first single "There Are Listed Buildings" and the title track, which has the head-bobbing, singalong catchiness of Matt and Kim's "Daylight". "We've Got Your Back" rolls it all into one, as the fidgety guitar and gang harmonies early in the song give way to a swaying chant and strings.

"Plan A" exhibits the band's rare knack for making a discordant and borderline abrasive blast sound so infectious, while "Straight In at 101" shows off their humor. It uses post-rock as a metaphor, with the lyrics, "feels like the build up takes forever, but you never get me off," but it sounds so cheery, you could almost be convinced that sexual frustration is loads of fun. That's all pretty much in line with what we've come to expect from Los Campesinos!, but it leads into "Who Fell Asleep", an unanticipated pseudoballad of sorts. On the lyrical front, the snark is still there, though: "She turned her back on the church and put all her faith in me in the back of the chapel where I taught her to screw and blaspheme."

When you have a group with as many moving parts as Los Campesinos!, there's a challenge in maintaining enough order so things don't end up too cluttered. However, this is a band with a clear grasp of their own dynamic, and producer John Goodmanson (who also helmed the band's We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed) proves up to the task of keeping everyone in line. "I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know," is a perfect example of the type of controlled chaos that results when it's done right. It's intense, with fuzzed-out riffs and rousing vocals, but equally important to the sound are the subtle noodling and the strings that cut their way in and ride along the top of the melody.

"A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; Or, Letters From Me to Charlotte" is probably the best showcase of the band's male-female vocal stylings, with the sprightly harmonies offsetting the usually angst-ridden lyrics and providing a palpable energy that's able to carry an occasional flat melody. That liveliness falls by the wayside on "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think About the Future", an uncharacteristically dark and brooding song that seems a little out of place on the album, even given some its less-than-freewheeling moments. There's no light-heartedness to temper the despair, and even the lyrics, "this thing hurts like hell," aren't delivered with a wink.

While unquestionably delivering more of the goods fans are sure to get excited about, on their new record, Los Campesinos! also prove they aren't one-trick ponies, boasting some welcome musical and conceptual range. Anyone who thought their last two full-lengths were pretty good, but felt that the occasional breather would have been nice, should really warm up to this. And if anything, that dynamic makes the album's fiery, volatile outbursts seem even more urgent. Romance may indeed be boring, but Romance Is Boring is certainly anything but.

Track Listing1. In Medias Res (4:41)
2. There Are Listed Buildings (2:54)
3. Romance Is Boring (2:35)
4. We've Got Your Back (4:29)
5. Plan A (2:02)
6. 200 - 102 (0:53)
7. Straight In at 101 (3:55)
8. Who Fell Asleep (4:11)
9. I Warned You: Do Not Make an Enemy of Me (2:47)
10. Heart Swells / 100 - 1 (0:46)
11. I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know (4:38)
12. A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; Or, Letters From Me to Charlotte (3:43)
13. The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future (4:26)
14. This Is a Flag. There Is No Wind (3:28)
15. Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State (2:52)

BadAcidVacation 01/28/10 02:43 PM

I like this band, but I don't think I would buy a whole album of theirs

xapplexpiex 01/28/10 06:44 PM

Hmm...I've never even heard of this band. But I love good lyrics and your review makes me want to check them out. What's a good RIYL?

Jeremy Aaron 01/28/10 07:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xapplexpiex (Post 61175141)
Hmm...I've never even heard of this band. But I love good lyrics and your review makes me want to check them out. What's a good RIYL?

I'd say RIYL Johnny Foreigner, Architecture in Helsinki, and Art Brut.

xapplexpiex 01/28/10 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeremy Aaron (Post 61177252)
I'd say RIYL Johnny Foreigner, Architecture in Helsinki, and Art Brut.

Ah! Honestly, I don't know any of those either. But I'm always up for new music. Especially since you gave the lyrics a 9.

I'm watching their music video on YouTube and I love the singer's voice. Good stuff.

tommy's ghost 01/28/10 07:39 PM

This album is quite exceptional.

Drew Beringer 01/28/10 09:24 PM

I love this band. Great review Jeremy.

Gregory Robson 01/29/10 05:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 61182751)
I love this band. Great review Jeremy.

Agreed on both counts. A great disc from a band, who by my count, does very little wrong.

thehereaway 01/29/10 05:34 AM

Love this band, love the album. I think it's without a doubt their best work; their sound has matured so much since their debut full-length only two years ago.

Also, 83% is way too low in my opinion; even more so when you consider the new MCS got over 92%.

onetwentyseven 01/29/10 05:37 AM

Excellent review, absolutely love this album.

Gregory Robson 01/29/10 05:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thehereaway (Post 61191311)
Love this band, love the album. I think it's without a doubt their best work; their sound has matured so much since their debut full-length only two years ago.

Also, 83% is way too low in my opinion; even more so when you consider the new MCS got over 92%.

Each reviewer has their own standards, don't judge Jeremy's 83 percent against Drew's 93 percent for MDL, it's just not an accurate comparison.

thehereaway 01/29/10 05:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 61191402)
Each reviewer has their own standards, don't judge Jeremy's 83 percent against Drew's 93 percent for MDL, it's just not an accurate comparison.

Yeah thats true. I understand that different reviewers have different standards and tastes etc, but it does create an inconsistency with the review scores for the website collectively. It was a good review regardless.

Someone'sCoat 01/29/10 06:50 AM

Cannot get enough of this album. The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future is already an all-time favorite of mine.

pianorocklove 01/29/10 08:03 AM

I love this band and this album, although this isn't my favorite album by them. "Straight in at 101" is the standout track on this album, in my opinion.

brenByah 01/29/10 08:46 AM

I could listen to "The Sea is a Good Place" for days, I love it, the videos great too.