Romance Is Boring, the third album by Welsh septet Los Campesinos! in less than two years, shows marked maturity and development from the ramshackle ebullience of their previous two albums. An expansive, charming album of steely pessimism and unbridled experimentation, Romance Is Boring corrals an impressive array of ideas and sounds.
Gareth, the group's frontman and primary lyricist, has always done an excellent job of chronicling the strands of disaffection, ennui and open hostility endemic to many in their 20s and 30s. On the zipping rocker "Straight in at 101," he pulls no punches, bemoaning, "I think we need more post-coital, and less post-rock / Feels like the buildup takes forever, but you never touch my cock." Elsewhere, on the charging "There Are Listed Buildings," he effortlessly drops a clever image ("I remember being naked to my waist / though not in which direction"), while the bombastic "Romance Is Boring" finds him shouting through dissonance, "We are two ships that pass in the night / You and I, we are nothing alike / I am a pleasure cruise / You are direct to trawl."
Even with missteps, like the clangorous "Plan A" or the sloppy "I Warned You: Do Not Make an Enemy of Me," Los Campesinos! succeed because of their uncharacteristic gambles; see the string-soaked nightmare "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future," the waltzing "Who Fell Asleep In" and the seasick electronic closer "Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State."