Los Campesinos!

Romance Is Boring

There’s a Plan B magazine from 2008 lying around here with these guys perched on the cover, and they look so colourful, so affable. The girls wear sheepish smiles and a boy wears a Deerhoof T-shirt, and the entire composition of the photo is akin to a high school chess club portrait. I know their schtick; good, strong and spazzy guitar riffs, glockenspiels, girl vox, boy vox, shouting – a whole lot of shouting, a whole lot of syllables. So looking at that cover I feel like I am stepping on seven waggy little indie-pop puppy tails by saying this album is borderline unlistenable. It’s sad. I remember yapping and rolling in the dirt of their first hit, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ like exactly everyone else did. That whole album, Hold On Now Youngster, was harmless, palatable summer festival stuff. Then there was another one, and now there’s yet another. It’s been the same mixture each time, with the chemicals becoming more potent and sometimes more caustic.

It’s the boy vox. I can’t get past the main vocals anymore, by that one Gareth Campesinos!, with his heavy brain and spittly tongue. His verses are rolling monologues and thus he half-speaks, sometimes rising to Shakespearean climax volume, but always earnest, clever, and kind of petulant. His intonation and the size of his vocabulary is like a dick-boast, and the imaginary dick is only adding inches: now he’s singing about leading some religious filly into the world of sex (‘Who Fell Asleep In’) and saying "I was her favourite heresy" and the imaginary dick is filling the room and hey, this is a little uncomfortable.

Shame, because the violins and brass here are resplendent, like some sort of Arcade Fire Juniors, and the drums take glad possession of tapping fingers and feet; the band’s songwriting skills are on a steady upwards trajectory. ‘The Sea Is A Good Place to Think of the Future’ starts so dark and hushed and sweet that I wish it were instrumental; with industrial drums, self-chasing guitar, it floats into post-rock waters, but by halfway in it’s a real struggle to hear anything but the words. So many frustrated teenage poets’ words. (It’d actually rock to hear LC! cover Papa Roach.)

Hopefully the last song, ‘Coda: A Burn Scar In The Shape of the Sooner State’, is a better indication of things to come. It still carries that affliction of the Fall Out Boy-length title – at least Gareth’s huge throbbing mental organ is nothing compared to what Pete Wentz gets up to – but with its downtempo, wistful shuffle it almost sounds like a Why? b-side. The vocals are sloppy, almost drunk, and damn if it doesn’t take the edge off. So let’s all buy LC! a row of shots and look blithely forward. Without advocating alcoholism. Much.

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