I’ve just spent 2 and a half hours trying to put Romance is Boring into words. In short, it’s probably going to be the best 2010. Is it better than We are Beautiful, We are Doomed? I don’t really know. It’s near impossible to step back and view the record as a bigger picture at the moment – having spent so much time with each of it’s predecessors, it’s hard to judge something you know that you’re going to be spending quite a significant portion of your life listening to. There’s a lot of baggage, which Gareth himself seems to acknowledge, with seeming references to Veganism placed in at least one place on the record.
Musically, it’s very similar to We Are Beautiful, which isn;’t a bad thing. there isn’t the huge change of tone like the jump from the first to the second album, though that was to be expected. By the time the debut came out, the band were already sick of being twee pop, and the lyrics on here couldn’t be further from that. It’s still noticably Los Camp! and explores themes that we’re already familiar with – most prominantly, that of inadequacy and desperation, with petty bitterness being thrown in for good measure. When not comparing sympathy for the untimely demise of synthetic clothing, there’s a beautiful wordplay to admire, with several lines sounding like they’ve been stolen straight from a poetry anthology. And a good one too.
There has definitely been progression from the last record, but it seems that they’re settled in this soundscape for the moment – some of might sound a little familar, and once or twice you could easily be listening to ‘All your kayfabe friends’, but for the most part this is all stunningly original work. The band have good taste and it shows – the work with Zac Pennington, Jherek Bischoff and Jamie Stewart has massively influenced the entirity of the album, and a lot of it sounds like a particularly good Xiu Xiu record as a result. It’s also noticable that the band are becoming more trans-Atlantic, though whether the reference to ‘dirt’ seems innocent, hearing ‘fall’ (as in Autumn) sung in anything other than an American accent is always jarring, to me at least *. Of course, that’s a personal tick, and it doesn’t detract from the album as a whole in the slightest.
In terms of what stands out, the title track is a future crowd pleaser thanks to it’s anthemic, apathetic chorus, and though single ‘There are listed buildings’ is brilliant, it’s no match for ‘Straight in at 101’. If this is to be the band’s finest moment, I wouldn’t be surprised as it’s 3:55 of inspiration. It ticks all the boxes in being poppy, slightly downbeat in tone, thudding and catchier than chicken pox. There are two part harmonies, lyrics about sexual frustration, crashing creshendos and even a slow bit, whilst it never fails to be either visionary or incredibly awkward alternately. That aside, there’s ‘I sighed. I just sighed, just so you know’, which feels like it’s more a grower than an instant hit, whilst having some of the most spiteful, desperate lines that the band have produced yet.
It’s taken me 2 and a half hours and around 5 drafts to get this far. The record comes out on February 1st and barring a miracle, it’s going to be in every good end of year list in 12 months time. It’s rare that a band so consistently brilliant as Los Campesinos! come around, so let’s just cling on and hope, okay?
Los Campesinos! – The Sea is a good place to think about the future (Witchita download)
*  It’s since been brought to my attention that it actually does say ‘Autumn’, which takes away from some of the mid-Atlantic vibe. But the same song does mention Jumbotrons and ballgames – but as it’s also been pointed out, I was probably just looking for something to criticise or mention in a slightly negative tone because, as you might’ve guessed, it’s likely to be one of the best album you’ll hear the next decade.