Very few bands in recent memory have had the ability to be prolific with their output, while at the same time continue to grow as a band with each release. The Welsh septet Los Campesinos! hit the ground running with their 2008 debut album, “Hold On Now, Youngster.” It was an almost flawless slice of indie-pop that demonstrated the band’s ability as musicians (complete with guitars, bass, drums, a violin, synthesizers, and glockenspiel) and the lyrical prowess of front man Gareth Campesinos!

While most pigeonholed the band as an optimistic, happy lot (their first single, after all, was the giddy “You! Me! Dancing!), many of the tracks on “Youngster” explored the bitterness of relationships and heartbreak with a staggering amount of depth and emotion. Lyrics such as “And when our eyes meet, all that I can read is ‘You’re the B-side’” rang like a rally cry for every indie kid who has had his or her heart broken.

The trend continued in greater abundance that November with their second album, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed.” Not only were Gareth’s lyrics more pessimistic and angry, the album marked a transition in the band’s sound. Whereas their debit sounded like everyone was running wild with their instruments in different directions, the band focused their sonic approach. It made for a more cohesive sounding album that did not compromise the spontaneity of their debut.

With “Romance Is Boring,” the group’s third record, Los Campesinos! have really outdone themselves by continuing to grow as a band while making a diverse album featuring some of their best songs to date. There are few, if any bands, making music with as much energy or as much heart as Los Campesinos!, and with this release, they have fully stepped into a league of their own.

From the first notes of album opener “In Medias Res,” it is immediately evident that the band has taken the darker, more forceful sound of “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” as their musical and lyrical blueprint. After a buildup of guitar, synth, and glockenspiel, Gareth opens things with an accusatory tone by singing bluntly, “But let’s talk about you for a minute,” directed at a former lover. When the band comes in at full force, Gareth’s delivery becomes more desperate and heartfelt, and the song’s full emotional impact is felt. The song is a proclamation that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The album’s next two tracks, the excellent singles “There Are Listed Buildings” and the title track, are among the group’s most straightforward rock songs, but are a welcome addition to the group’s cannon. The former returns to the more scattered sounds of their debut, while the latter contains one of the band’s most memorable choruses to date. If you have a friend who may be squeamish about the band, these are perfect introductions to what Los Campesinos! are all about.

Even in their more experimental moments, the band’s ear for detail and musical prowess make for some powerful songs. The almost Blood Brothers like “Plan A” finds Gareth and co-lead singer Aleks Campesinos! almost screaming lyrics about soccer amongst a raw sounding musical arrangement. It makes for an intriguing listen that is still catchy as anything else the band has done.  Additionally, the four musical movements of “I Warned You: Do Not Make An Enemy of Me” demonstrates how tight the band sound as a unit, and is a great track in its own right

Gareth’s lyrics have always been one of the things that make Los Campesinos! stand out amongst their contemporaries. The man has a way with the phrase, and his tales of heartbreak and misery are chock full of plays on word, pop culture references, and downright catharsis. His delivery only adds to the lyrical bite. For example, on “Straight In At 101” he vents his sexual frustrations by comparing lack of intimacy to the post-rock genre. “Feels like the buildup takes forever, but you never get me off.” One can almost picture him sitting on the edge of the bed, feeling white hot with anger. Phrases of similar caliber and vigor are in abundance on “Romance Is Boring,” and most of the songs read like short stories about lust and heartbreak.

Album standout “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think of the Future” takes a more empathetic and serious tone both lyrically and musically in an almost overwhelming fashion. A tale of a female friend who is on the path to self-destruction after a rough childhood, the song is filled minor details and vivid imagery that paints a heart wrenching picture. When the musical buildup of the verses finally hit the outburst of the chorus, it makes for a swift emotional punch to the gut, and makes the song a candidate for the best track Los Campesinos! have ever recorded.

Perhaps the most staggering thing about “Romance Is Boring” is that there is not a single weak track to be found. All of the best qualities about the band are present and accounted for on each of the album’s fifteen songs, while at the same time displaying the group’s growth and their willingness to take risks. “Romance Is Boring” builds on the immense promise of the band’s first two releases, and matches, and often surpasses, both of them in terms of quality. This is no small accomplishment when you are responsible for two of the best albums of 2008. It may be Los Campesinos! third album in a 24 month period, but for a band with this much creative energy and talent, proficiency can pay off in droves.

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