If We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed was Los Campesinos! dimming the lights, then Romance Is Boring is them living in the dark. Billed by the band as “a record about the death and decay of the human body, sex, lost love, mental breakdown, football, and, ultimately, that there probably isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel,” RIB is not the Campesinos! of their Hold On Now, Youngster… debut. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, they sound better than ever.
LC! mine some serious lyrical territory on this album, but what may be surprising for fans is how often the music follows suit, the most extreme example being the discordant “Plan A.” Sounding like a long-lost Blood Brothers song complete with full-on screams and noise freakouts, it’s the most far-removed from anything LC! have done in the past. Throughout the album they’ve added horns, samples, and drum machines to the mix. Those worried that the joyous Campesinos! of old have disappeared have nothing to fear with songs like “There Are Listed Buildings” and “We’ve Got Your Back” providing moments of pure pop bliss, regardless of subject matter.
Singer-lyricist Gareth Campesinos! hasn’t lost any of his bite for ironic and sarcastic wordplay, whether “playing straight chicken with gay girls” or demanding “more post-coital and less post-rock.” Wanting to be “the one that keeps track of the moles on your back” is one of the best proclamations of unrequited love in recent memory, at once both completely unglamourous and wholly romantic. It’s finding the beauty in the grotesque that’s a Campesinos! trademark, and luckily for us they seem to know where to look.