Continuing their relatively quick pace of making albums, Los Campesinos! have released their third album, Romance Is Boring, marking a shift from the teenage exuberance of their earlier albums to early twenties bitterness. Though Aleks Campesinos! left the group late last year to focus on her schooling, her vocals remain on the album. Unlike the newly added brass section, lead singer Gareth’s sister Kim will have to wait until the band begins their European tour next month for her debut as Aleks’ replacement.
I’m worried that the band’s prolificacy may be watering down the final product. This is their first album to feel overlong. There’s definitely some filler here, notably ‘Plan A’, whose shrieking vocals are just off-putting. It’s curious that Aleks left, since she seems to have a substantially reduced presence here in favour of Gareth. Her only lead vocal that I can recall is on ‘We’ve Got Your Back’, which is subsequently one of the album’s highlights. Speaking of Gareth, as main lyricist and singer, his sound is incredibly angry and frustrated on this album, as if his heart was just ripped out and placed in a blender. The darkness was hinted at on We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, but it can really get overwhelming on this record.
On the other hand, ‘Straight in at 101’ gives us the lyrical gem “We need more post-coital and less post-rock” and single ‘There Are Listed Buildings’ harkens back to a more optimistic Los Campesinos!, but it’s a sound that’s all too lacking for most of the album. In an interview with Pitchfork, Gareth claimed that his favourite records were about “shagging and death,” which were subsequently credited as being the themes for the album. Someone should tell him that combining the two is necrophilia, which is frowned upon. The oh-so-clever criticism being bandied about is that this album is boring. It isn’t, there’s always quite a lot happening musically, but the darkness really clashes with what we came to love about the band. Hopefully by their next effort they will have cheered up a tad.
Tags: Los Campesinos!