Under Review: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

You might expect a band that releases its debut and sophomore albums in the same year to quickly run out of ideas.  Looking back on those two releases, Los Campesinos! showed that they’ve got a lot of creativity in them.  In particular, the second album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, presented a much wider range of emotions than its predecessor, hinting at a more introverted direction in the band’s future.  True to that supposition, the septet’s latest, Romance Is Boring, begins with “In Medias Res,” a slowly-building vamp that hardly kicks the album off like “Death To Los Campesinos!” or “Ways To Make It Through The Wall” did.  Still, with 14 more tracks to go, the record’s bound to pick up sometime, right?  Well, not in the way you might hope for.  The band quickly reverts to its tried and true formula of complicated and wordy lyrics over a wall of violins and glockenspiels.  Unfortunately now, that formula comes off as much more formulaic than before, and songs like “There Are Listed Buildings” and “Straight In At 101” are fun but ultimately forgettable.   Even the slower songs, whose counterparts gave the previous records some dramatic variety, fall dishearteningly flat.  “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future” simply plods and “Heart Swells/100-1” is far too short to live up to the similarly-titled standout from We Are Beautiful.  Snippets of unfinished tunes and lengthy song titles try both my patience and willingness to accept the songs on their own merits.  If there’s anything to be learned from Romance Is Boring it’s that you can absolutely have too much of a good thing.  I was pretty sure that Los Campesinos! figured that out after their debut, but I guess I was mistaken.  Romance Is Boring is a disappointing retread that comes far too early in the band’s career.  I had hoped for the best for Los Campesinos!, and I would still like for them to be remembered as more than just the “You! Me! Dancing!” group.  But with tracks as aimless as “Who Fell Asleep In” and as grating as “Plan A,” it’s clear that Los Campesinos! weren’t skipping over the sophomore slump with We Are Beautiful, they were just putting it off.

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~ by E. on February 1, 2010.

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