Making good music that connects with people emotionally is like making good toast. Some bands over-cook it. Some bands under-cook it. Some bands use grainy bread, and then put a spread on top, which just tastes funny. Some bands can’t even figure out how to turn the toaster on. Well, I can at least tell you this much: Los Campesinos! know how to make goddamn good toast.
“Romance Is Boring”, their second album (arguable I know, but “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” is considered an EP by the band), came out earlier this year. So though this review is slightly belated, I can’t run a music blog and not talk about an album I love so much.
Let me begin by talking about one of Los Campesinos!’s most defining aspects: Gareth’s lyrics. Gareth has to be, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and thought-provoking lyricists I have ever heard. Often dealing with love and relationships (the album title wouldn’t be a hint there, would it?), he manages to tell a story perfectly without making the already over-saturated topics dull, which is a feat in itself.
But then again, you need only listen to one song to know Los Campesinos! are anything but dull. Whilst the dual vocals of Gareth and Aleks aren’t as prominent as they were in earlier releases, they still feature occasionally, and both of them still know how to build up tension and release it at exactly the right points.
On this album, the rest of the band have really refined their musicianship to the next level. Moving beyond what felt like a cluttered mess at times on debut “Hold On Now, Youngster…”, they’ve kept their distinct Campesinos! style, cleared up what wasn’t needed, and focused on crafting engaging anthemic indie pop. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Featuring grander instrumentation than previous releases (the brass on opener “In Medias Res” is astoundingly catchy) whilst still keeping their subtle and tender moments (like closer “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State”) provides the album with the sense of maturity that it needs. Whilst staying true to their own unique indie roots, they’ve shown us that they can produce a solid album that has its musical highs and lows.
It should now be more evident than ever that Los Campesinos! aren’t “just another indie band”. Combining Gareth’s witty, often bleak, but almost always clever and engaging lyricism with the other Campesinos!’s fast, aggressive, bright, and swirling musicianship, has helped this band craft what I consider a near masterpiece. The tracks flows extremely well, and whilst some songs may take a while to get used to (“Plan A” was a grower for me), I cannot recommend it enough. Essential listening for people who like their music fun with a dash of pessimism.
Grab a free download of “The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future” here.