Los Campesinos! -
Romance Is Boring (Wichita Recordings )
IS THERE such a thing as prog-indie? Indie has always been able to accommodate diverse genres, but there are few takers for prog apart from Final Fantasy and Shearwater.
To that very small list though we can now add Los Campesinos! While their debut album epitomised twee-indie (itself a sub-genre ), the mighty ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ showed the Welsh septet had a way with the epic and dramatic.
It’s these latter qualities the band fully embraces and runs riot with on third album Romance Is Boring. The songs are full of drama, crescendos, changes in tempo and texture, urgent vocals, and a distinct disregard for any traditional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ format.
However, this is an album about finding yourself in your 20s, realising you have to take responsibility for your life and what you do with it, so the momentousness of the music is apt for the subject matter.
Romance Is Boring also deals with sex, lust, and the search for romantic/sexual fulfilment with a frankness indie generally shies away from. It’s not the most accessible album, but it is to be admired.
Marina & The Diamonds -
The Family Jewels (Warners )
“CAN I resist the carrots fame and fortune dangle?” asked Crass on their provocative 1978 track ‘Punk Is Dead’. A similar question is being pondered by Greek/Welsh singer Marina Diamandis on her debut album The Family Jewels. Potential stardom beckons (‘Are You Satisfied?’ ) but so do does failure and the fear of losing your identity in an industry where image and marketing diktats are all (the Lady GaGa send up ‘Girls’ ). Marina remains determined to trod her own path (‘I Am Not A Robot’ ) but are the odds stacked against her (‘Guilty’ )?
Too self-referential? Probably. Musically though The Family Jewels is all well crafted, catchy, hook laden, anthemic pop and camp ABBA style thumpers. It’s aimed squarely at the mainstream but the songs’ definite nods toward Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux might see it become a guilty pleasure for some rock and indie fans.
Lost Chord -
There Is No Lost Chord EP (independent )
MOST BANDS pick one style and stick with it. Lost Chord however draw on a wide range of influences and that diversity is what makes this Galway quartet such an exciting prospect.
The band, led by Dave Phelan, has been evolving steadily over the last year. Hence opener ‘Cheats’ has been revamped from its original electro-pop pulse into a frantic rocker. The additional Crimes Against remix adds a nice touch of sleaze to complement lyrics of lust and infidelity.
Instrumental ‘You Do Not Do’ is rather restrained here and looses something of the invigorating Afro-beat feel it has when played live. Not so with ‘Ronald And Nancy’ which retains its mighty Krautrock thunder.
A delight is ‘Up North’ (check the outrageous lyric “I hear you’re getting married/I just want one more chance to stick it in” ), showing a more melodic indie-pop side to Dave’s writing than we’ve previously heard.
The highlight though is ‘Records Not Fear’, which switches between anxious, eerie Goth-indie guitar chimes and a thrillingly sinister guitar riff, given extra drama by the band’s “One two three four five six” count in.
It’s a pity ‘Some Other Long Haired Boy’ and early favourite ‘Cocaine Kills Celebrities’ are not included, but There Is No Lost Chord is a fine debut and throws down the gauntlet to all other local bands for 2010.