Maturity is a scary thing. When you start to grow up people tend to expect certain, more traditional things out of you. Things like: get a full-time job, stop drinking so much, start a family. These expectations tend to crush any mortal soul on Earth who craves their own independence, but this is not all that maturity brings. No, maturity is more about developing, gaining something from your experiences. Collectively putting things together, and being able to look back on them with a special fondness because they helped craft the soul you’ve developed into. It’s about being able to articulate yourself as your point of view on life changes. Romance is Boring is not your typical sophomore full length album, but then again there is nothing typical about Brit pop/punk rockers Los Campesinos.
Los Campesinos! come right out of the gate here sounding much different than the band I got to know for the first time at Lollapalooza last August. There, they seemed like seemingly endless balls of eclectic pop-punk energy, giving what is easily the most raw, in your face live performance I’ve seen in my life. Here, as soon as the album begins with “In Medias Res”, they seem to have slowed down, taken a step back and realized that surely that kind of angst and intensity will kill you. While it still has their distinct large band flavor, the entire effort seems more focused, more contemplative, and a lot less reliant on catchy tongue-in-cheek lyrics and in your face aggression.
Romance is Boring seems to be taking one step back and three forward. Where their recipe for success was quite delicious on their previous album and EPs, they became a tough band to recommend. They were like a very spicy curry. Delicious if you like it, but a lot of people just can’t stomach it. Here, what they’ve done is slowed down without compromising their grit, and the final product is the better for it. It seems as if their brash pop-punk mixture has been tweaked into a more experimental grunge-punk hybrid, which is definitely a unique sound.
The band has always given your ears plenty to discern, between lead singer Gareth’s raw, direct lyrics and the accompanying big band sounding music. This album turns a page from more electronic sounding pop-punk to guitar driven, lyrically focused music. But they never lose their bite, as Gareth’s lyrics seem to have been the major catalyst for the change in sound for the band. Whereas on previous albums there was a big focus on the cutesy, rhyming lyrical content and eclectic instrumentation, Romance is Boring boasts lyrics that sound like someone trying less to pop a crowd and instead to tell a story. The lyrics are intense and poetic all at the same time, rarely sounding like over structured emo Shakespeare and instead like the abrasive 20-somethings the band actually is. “Straight in at 101” is the perfect example. It’s a song about sexual frustration, but the directness is actually the charm.
If you want to check out Los Campesinos, this would be their easiest album to recommend. Where their previous efforts are much more up tempo with in your face pop-punk teeth, this album offers more collectively and overall. With Romance is Boring, Los Campesinos seem much less aware of what they are trying to be and more focused on what they are. This is a bold step for any developing band, but for one who had a formula for success-to tinker with it midstream was risky. It’s all about embracing the right maturity for you, and Los Campesinos obviously understand themselves better than anyone else. Like any maturing entity, change is necessary. Change is good. Change is change.
Final Score: 7/10 (Good)