Is it 2010 already? I must have hit the snooze button a few too many times. As I rub the sleep out of my eyes and flip through a list of bands and albums that was compiled by the SDM Blog for possible review, one in particular stuck out to me: “Los Campesinos!, have we begun listening to Norteño music?” I ponder. As misleading a band name as I can come up with, surprisingly these guys are not Mexican, but they’re… Welsh (none of them are actually from Wales, but that’s where the band was formed. Semantics, really.) Off the top of my head I can think of many misleading film titles with unexpected protagonists, i.e. “The Mexican” starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise, etc… Culture shock aside, let’s get to the music.
Their third effort, “Romance Is Boring” (26 January 2010 in the USA, 1 February 2010 in the UK) starts off a bit slowly with “In Medias Res”; acoustic guitar strumming, violins off in the back but ever present in the bridge: actual strings believe it or not; they’re a 7-piece band, SOMEONE better be playing that fiddle. As it builds up, it’s almost operatic with its slower tempo, huge cymbal crashes, arpeggiated piano, and, wow, horns too. Nice. “There Are Listed Buildings” picks up the pace with an almost ska-like feel, only less orchestrated. One thing that really comes through early on in the record is confidence. To me it sounds like this is the way the band wanted to sound. Every chord played, drum hit, and note blown: “That’s exactly what we meant to do”, is the vibe I get. Very upbeat, very take-it-or-leave-it.
The title track, "Romance Is Boring," is very solid and in-your-face, but in the nicest possible way. “I Warned You Do Not Make An Enemy of Me” got my attention not for its title (which is very cool, you know it is), but for fitting tempo changes, breaks, and hell, that’s a waltz rhythm into such a svelte timestamp of 2:48. “This is a Flag. There is No Wind”: “CAN WE ALL PLEASE JUST CALM THE FUCK DOWN?!” Love it! That’s how you start a movement, if you ask me. Instead of starting The Revolution, that’s how they start the track. To me, it’s a song about motivation, or a lack there of, how “my mind is like a nation’s flag, but my breeze is too weak.” Really, couldn’t care less. How many times have we all felt that way about a person, a situation, or even what’s going on right in front of us? Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered. And just as the record started, so it ends in a screeching halt, kicking the tempo down with “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State”: a welcome cool-down, or smashing into a brick wall? You decide.
All in all “Romance Is Boring” pleasantly surprised me. I will definitely be keeping my ears open for their earlier efforts. I’d like to hear how they progressed into the solid indie-pop band they are today.
1. In Medias Res
2. There Are Listing Buildings
3. Romance Is Boring
4. We’ve Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2)
5. Plan A
7. Straight in at 101
8. Who Fell Asleep In
9. I Warned You: Do Not Make an Enemy of Me
10. Heart Swells/100-1
11. I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know
12. A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; or, Letters from Me to Charlotte
13. The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future
14. This Is a Flag, There Is No Wind
15. Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State
16. Too Many Flesh Suppers – iTunes bonus track
Keep up with Los Campesinos! at their homepage, MySpace, and Twitter.
Here is their video for “Romance Is Borning” from their Vimeo Channel: Los Campesinos!