Just looking at the blood dripping down the leg of the cover of Romance is Boring, and you can tell that there is a dark shift in the writing of Los Campesinos!. Long have they been a band of rapturous joy and sheer energy, but as we grow older, ultimately our views begin to shift. This is a record of changing winds; it is a band looking in new directions.
On “A Heat Rash…” you can immediately tell that the band, while retaining some of their trademark sounds, has switched gears, albeit just slightly. Musically, there is still an overall feeling of joy amidst Gareth’s lyrics, but the fervent energy seems somewhat absent here. It seems that the urgency of the band has dissipated with the times.
Yes, you will find the traditional Los Campesinos! tracks filled with possibly too much noise for one listener; you’ll find those songs that encourage you to scream atop your lungs with the band, such as “This is a Flag. There is No Wind” or “Straight in at 101.” These songs bring energy to the group, reminding you of the band’s original sound, but overall, such rambunctious moments are few and far between here, which may be disheartening to long-time fans of the group.
Instead, you’ll stumble across slow movers like “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State.” While Gareth’s vocals are coated in minor distortion, the group itself recalls a gloomier version of I’m From Barcelona. Multiple instruments come in and out with the song fading away into walls of feedback. This isn’t the only tune that demonstrates a more solemn side of the band. “In Media Res” messes with the song structure that the LC has often employed, using quiet moments back to back with louder constructive moments within the song. It’s not a slow number, but it definitely doesn’t have the pace of previous efforts.
When you hit across the record’s title track, “Romance is Boring,” for some reason, the album seems kind of muddled. It’s as if the group set out with one thing in mind, yet they were unable to deliver upon their ideas, or at least they weren’t comfortable straying too far away from their comfort zone. It’s filled with noise, a la the usual LC stuff, but experimenting with feedback and distortion gets a bit annoying at times. And if you ask me (which you didn’t) the gang vocals by album three are getting a little bit tiresome, as are Gareth’s lyrics. What once seemed clever, now seems a bit banal.
For some reason, it seems as if the group just came across a bunch of old alternative records, and they decided that loud frequencies would be rewarding for their live sound, which is quite possible, though it doesn’t translate to the album. “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed So You Know,” the closing track, just seems like a bunch of children messing around in their garage. And wait until you hear the metal moments on “I Warned You Do Not Make an Enemy of Me.” Did they really put those guitars in there?
By the end of Romance is Boring, it seems that Los Campesinos! have finally warn their listeners down. They don’t seem nearly as cohesive as they once did, which encourages a lot of the noisier moments to come across in quite an amateur fashion. It’s loud and boisterous, but it’s too much so at times. It seems that the band has split their personalities on this, leaving them stuck in the middle somewhere. It makes for an uneven album, one that doesn’t do the group as much justice as you hoped it would. It’s not nearly as fun as the group CAN be, and not nearly as dark as they seem to want to be. Expect the next album to make a decision for us and them.
Download: Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future [MP3]