Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The periphrastic rambling of singer and lyricist Gareth Campesinos, LC’s hallmark, shows absolutely no sign of abating on this, the band’s third album. Gareth’s trademark tragic romantic persona is still intact too, but from the opening lyric ‘Let’s talk about you for a minute’ to the emotive arrangements and closing refrain of ‘I can’t believe I chose the mountains every time you chose the sea’ over swelling amp explosions, this is a colossal step up on every level.
Hyperkinetic indie pop is still the order of the day but Romance explores fringes of it few have the bravery to; seven-part harmonies, strings, brass bands, Pavement guitar swirls and more attention to detail than ever. Producer John Goodmanson has probably never been pushed so hard and does a sterling job of keeping it all together.
Kicking off with the stop-start thrills of In Media Res and lead off single There Are Listed Buildings (recently voted number one on Dandelion Radio’s 2009 Festive Fifty) Romance is a thrilling ride. Once, the song would have all but disappeared into a maelstrom of slashing guitars, stinging riffs, stabbing horns, buzzing hi-hats and keening vocals of the others, but Romance shows more musical, lyrical and dynamic depth than any LC release so far. Energy now seems sourced less from sugary adolescent passions to a more bitter approach to philosophical and personal concerns or, in Gareth’s own words: ‘it’s an album about shagging and death’.
Every listen reveals another pearler of a lyric ('I think of you as more post-coital and less post rock /Feels like the build-up takes forever but you never get me off' – Straight in at 101) and increasingly impresses with musical shifts and arrangements; all credit to Harriet and Tom Campesinos.
Which isn’t to say that everything works, the switch to deathly serious songs about a friend’s anorexia (The Sea Is A Good Place To Think of the Future) is heartfelt but its sparse intensity feels at odds in the setting. This Is A Flag. There Is No Wind kicks off with the bellowed lyric ‘Can we all please just calm the fuck down?” Whether you literally or figuratively echo this statement is personal but to these ears, this party and morning-after-assessment can kick on all year long.