Album Review: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring (Wichita, 2010)

Roisin Kiberd 11 February 2010

Hold on now, youngsters; do you remember indie? No, not that semi-obscure, animal mask-wearing electro that the kids are so keen on these days. Not even guys with side partings and sweaters in the mode of Ezra Koenig. Real indie. Trashy, sweaty, snotty teens shouting out their hormones to the clash of guitars. Confessions of lost love scribbled in song. References to Morrissey. No? I didn’t think you would.

A third release from the erstwhile sunshine-merchants from Cardiff, Romance is Boring sees Los Campesinos on flying, shouty form. Tender-hearted but loud enough to piss off people sitting next to you on the bus, the fifteen songs flit from luscious, multi-instrumental chamber pop to Bright Eyes-style stripped down paranoia. Opening tracks ‘In Medias Res’ and ‘There Are Listed Buildings’ harness the giddy, dizzying instrumentalism of a lo-fi Arcade Fire, but the band sabotage themselves by pushing their noise-rock credo and disjointed lyrics too far. There’s something of the emo about their grandiose storytelling, the squeaky, narky delivery that leaves frontman Gareth sounding akin to a Welsh Brian Molko. But if you can disregard the DIY teen miserabilism, and lyrics like ‘she’s not eating again, she’s not eating again’, then by all means buy it; you’ll be rewarded with orchestral bursts of glorious sonic sunshine, albeit wedged between mawkish lyrical overload and scuzzy self-indulgence.

Roisin Kiberd