Los Campesinos!

Romance Is Boring

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    5
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Los Campesinos! third album, 2010’s Romance Is Boring, attempts to be an amalgamation of their first two records, blending the head-long rush of energy that was Hold on Now, Youngster with the thoughtful, somewhat morose heaviness of the difficult second album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. It seems like a wise move on paper, but it doesn’t work out on the record. Romance Is Boring is an over-cooked, under-performing album that ultimately falls short of their first two efforts, and sounds like the work of a band that isn't really enjoying making records anymore. The reasons for the album's failure can be placed squarely in the lap of Tom and Gareth Campesinos!. Tom wrote the music, and while it seems energetic on the surface, it’s a hollow kind of energy that feels like the memory of energy instead of the real thing. Most of the songs either sound like second-hand versions of better songs from the previous albums, or experiments that don’t really work. Sure, it’s hard to do anything too shocking after two albums, but the lack of interesting ideas is a major let-down. With the addition of some good lyrics or melodies from Gareth, the record could probably have been saved. Alas, his words are teenage diary entries at best; shockingly bad at worst (“We need more post-coital/and less post-rock”). His need to be poetic and obscure at all costs means the songs are jammed with words that tumble and stumble out of his mouth with little regard to rhythm or the song. His shouting, off-kilter voice is annoying more often than charming on Romance too, which is a different experience from the first two records. Even Aleks’ sweetly crooned vocals aren’t enough to make the singing on the album palatable. The band also made the interesting and unfortunate decision to forgo hooks and catchy choruses, for the most part. While there are a few tracks that nearly work, the title track is the only song that really sticks because there is an actual singalong chorus with some guts behind it. Let’s save a little blame, too, for producer John Goodmanson, who takes all the elements the group jams into their songs and flattens them out sonically into a kind of monochromatic paste. It would be too optimistic to hope that the band would have ever made a record as vital and thrilling as Hold on Now, it’s just too bad that they’ve sunk to the level of bland irrelevance so quickly.

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