Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring (Cover Artwork)

Los Campesinos!

Romance Is Boring (2010)

Arts & Crafts

There must be something in the water in Cardiff. This Welsh town also gave birth to one of my persoanal favourites, Future of the Left (and mclusky, of course). Since their inception, the band has kept an almost unhealthily prolific nature with their releases. What has made the band so popular since their semi-recent inception is how they maintain their high standard of quality whilst changing their sound from release to release.

What is noticed right away is the darker direction the band has headed in. Granted, they have always displayed affection for the downtrodden in their lyrics, but their music has always been a colourful assault of high and rapid musical notes reminding one of a sugar rush. Their music resembles, I would imagine, the sounds that would come out of Zooey Deschanel's head after striking it with a sledgehammer. They have delivered on the promise of a less pop-oriented band that was made with their 2008 release, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed.

The album opener, "In Medias Res" makes a sudden gearshift halfway through into a darker and moodier sound. This darkened atmosphere can be felt throughout the rest of the 15 songs. With this, it becomes apparent that this album may be received coldly by those who have warmed to the more accessibly poppy sound of their earlier records. The album as a whole seems like a grower right down to the individual songs. For example, the a capella melody in the album's first single, "There Are Listed Buildings" doesn't quite reach its peak until it merges with the chorus and attains a triumphant quality. From there on out, it starts to achieve the catchiness that it aims for.

The album contains two calm interludes, the first of which is strategically placed right after the abrasive "Plan A," giving the listener some time to catch their breath. Contrasting the first, the second interlude seems to be placed before "I Just Sighed..." to make the opening seem that much more jarring. This marks another change, in that among the shifting moods of the album, it feels like the song placements have more of a purpose.

With seven members, Los Campesinos! have to do some complicated arranging to keep all of them busy. This means the album frequently flirts with the danger of an over-occupation of activity. Sometimes it seems like there is too much going on to concentrate on the music. While it never quite crosses that threshold, it does come close. This may be my only qualm with this album. It is a small qualm that fades to the background in the bigger picture. It seems like the band has figured out how to maintain a poppy indie sound while letting the music match their often destitute lyrics.