Los Campesinos!

Romance is Boring

Wichita/Arts & Crafts

Jan 28, 2010 Issue #29 - Year End 2009 - Best of the Decade Bookmark and Share

If Los Campesinos!' first album, Hold on Now, Youngster, was the sound of worked-up adolescents pining for easy sex, and its rush-released follow up, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, the sound of crushed young adults learning there's no such thing, the group's latest, Romance is Boring, is the inevitable realization that even stable relationships don't make sex any less elusive.

"I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock," Gareth Campesinos! sings on "Straight In At 101," in one of his many lines worthy of its own bumper sticker. On the rousing title track, Gareth likens himself and his platonic lover to "two ships that pass in the night...I am a pleasure cruise, you are gone out to trawl." It's one of the album's many references to couples that aren't on the same wavelength, or even physically on the same plane.

Though he still has fits of angst and excitability, this time out Gareth also writes outside himself, tempering the exaggerated curmudgeon that made We Are Beautiful such a blast, in favor of a more nuanced, literary set of songs about how distanceand, for that matter, proximitydestroys love.

While Gareth tones it down a bit, the band itself is busier than ever, making room for any and all ideas over these 15 tracks. Songs erupt into a blood-rush of strings, brass, voices, noise, and clatter, and seemingly just because it can; album opener "In Media Res" even literally morphs into a Xiu Xiu song for a moment, with Jamie Stewart singing a shell-shocked verse about his corpse. Perhaps not since Broken Social Scene's 2005 self-titled beast has an album been so overloaded with both brilliance and slop. Like that record, though, Romance is Boring is anchored by enough exhilarating moments, big and small, to make trolling for them through the muck a pleasure. (www.loscampesinos.com)

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