by Kyle Sharin
It has only been 14 months since the last Los Campesinos! album, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed,” unexpectedly outdid it’s 8-month-old predecessor, “Hold On Now, Younger.” With such a rapid and consistent follow-up, it is not too surprising we now have a new Los Campesinos! album fresh for 2010.
However, the biggest surprise remains the amount of growth and texture between the two albums. “Romance is Boring” is no different, as it expands in the darker direction that “We Are Beautiful” was headed and continues to thrive under personal turmoil.
Lyrically, the album is quite dark and maintains the theme of sparring couples, giving the songs a darker and more atmospheric aesthetic. Sonically, the band expands on all the hints of their previous efforts.
The failure to use all instruments in every song creates a bigger impact on the song’s larger and smaller moments, leaving the frantic nature of the band at bay. The inclusion of Xui Xui singer, Jamie Stewart, in the album opener “In Medias Res,” gives the music a more experimental spice. Perhaps the most stellar track, “The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future,”comes near the end of the album. Gareth, member of Campesinos!, somberly details his worries concerning a thin girl who knows her way around a pharmacy cabinet. The song remains instantly gratifying while failing to mirror anything the band has previously accomplished. Its sense of building urgency and melodrama make the record very worthwhile.
Overall, it’s rather astonishing how one record can portray the growth of a band, especially a band formerly making cutesy, punkish tween-pop. The band expanded its palate and made the right refinements to their traditional sound. Some will find the new material a little less unpredictable and whimsical than before.
Nevertheless, for a band whose members are growing into their twenties, it certainly feels more mature and full. “Romance Is Boring” still radiates fun and energy. It remains earnest and introspective. This creates a new experience with the same satisfying results.