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Los Campesinos!: Inventive Invective

Gareth Campesinos doesn't sing so much as spit invective in knotty, spiteful bundles. His grievances are both impossibly articulate and awkwardly discordant, and he's prone to letting his words spill out in furious, non-rhyming rambles; at one point in Los Campesinos!'s endlessly quotable 2008 song "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed," he seethes, "I taught myself the only way to vaguely get along in love is to like the other slightly less than you get in return. I keep feeling like I'm being undercut."

Still, Gareth is but one of seven band members to have taken on the Campesinos surname, and they're all competing constantly for attention. It's fitting that, when the title track to the Welsh group's new album Romance Is Boring gives way to a guitar solo, it's a fractured, discontented mess — all shards and shrapnel, frayed nerves and raw power.

Surly and overstuffed, "Romance Is Boring" takes an unsurprisingly dim view of domestic bliss: "You're pouting in your sleep / I'm waking, still yawning / We're proving to each other that romance is boring." Naturally, the song careens so recklessly and with such chaotic, clamorous fervor that it's always in danger of coming apart altogether. But it holds together, just barely, crashing to a halt in time for one final, appropriate, perfectly beleaguered sigh.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)