Boisterous Welsh seven piece offer more rambunctious and highly orchestrated punk-pop on their third album, but also display a more sedate and intimate side that shows they're more than just a bunch of rowdy indie kids.
It was a bold move for Cardiff indie outfit Los Campesinos! to release their first two albums just eight months apart, one that backfired on them slightly, as the initial buzz wore off quickly after their massively hyped debut 'Hold On Now, Youngster...', and its follow up, 'We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed', failed to attract nearly the amount of attention. Now the seven piece return, with their slightly altered line up barely affecting the kind of clattering chant-packed pop we've come to expect from them. That said, they do seem to have gained a clearer focus and sensibility that makes 'Romance Is Boring' a more consistent listen than their previous efforts.
Los Campesinos! were always prone to the odd noisy wig-out session. No change there then. 'Plan A' and 'I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know' both challenge the ear with clashing instruments, shrieks, squeals and distortion aplenty. But though punk influences are rampant, with jerky guitars and shouted vocals throughout, they are never allowed to run away with themselves. More importantly, they don't take away from the pop value of tracks like 'There Are Listed Buildings', with its ska-style brass section, and the title track with its 90s grunge undertones.
Though the lyrics here can occasionally be overly self-aware ('Straight in at 101' is a blunt anthem of sexual frustration that declares "We need more post-coital, and less post-rock/The build-up lasts forever but you never touch my cock"), it is often witty, and conjures some beautifully dysfunctional imagery, rejecting accepted notions and depicting life in all its wretched glory. But it's anguish-filled number 'The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future' that adds real depth to 'Romance Is Boring', patiently building strings and voices in a way that retains the band's distinctive style while simultaneously taking it in a new direction. If you thought Los Campesinos! were one trick ponies, this, at last, proves you were wrong.