Best of the B Sides: “The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future”

It’s coming up on that time of the year where the perfect soundtrack is a mixture of Los Campesinos! awkward pop and the xx chillwave electronica (more on the xx next week!). There’s something about the sparse, tight sound of both bands that makes it perfect for fall and chilly weather. Los Camps! have always just sounded cold to me, like they’re singing on the tundra or something. Probably because my favorite Los Camps! experiences always involved listening to them in the freezing cold, but either way, it’s time for a Los Camps! b side.

Last fall’s release No Blues (2013) did astonishingly well, so it seems that their popular draw went from their earlier hits like “You! Me! Dancing!” to recent hits like “What Death Leaves Behind” without much notice to the albums in between. I’ve always been a big fan of 2010’s Romance is Boring. It was right around the time the band’s sound took a turn toward the macabre and the tone got a more personal. It was a delightful shift and Los Camps! awkward pop got a little less awkward and more adult.

One of the best songs on Romance is Boring is by far “The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future.” Not quite the longest title on the album, “Sea” picks up the darker tones that album closer “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State” explores in depth. There’s a beautiful sense of urgency to this song, from the frantic (yet timid) guitar refrain at the beginning to the screamed pre-chorus to the arresting lyrics (I grabbed a hold of her wrist/ and my hand closed from tip to tip/ I said, “You’ve taken the diet too far/ you’ve got to let it slip”). Los Camps! have always used unique lyrics as one of their trademarks, but it really comes to the fore in “Sea.” There’s a lilting poetry to the images they conjure that really draws out a true artistry to their work, thus the transition from an awkward brand of pop to a mature brand.

Romance in Boring plays with these skills, stringing together profound lyrics with nicely distanced musicality. Los Camps! use space in a refreshing way, adding just enough reverb to certain elements of their instrumentals to create a truly dynamic play between the intimate vocals and the echoing melody. “Sea” was a break in new ground for Los Camps! and the tone they created started them off on an incredible path that produced both Hello Sadness (2012) and No Blues, two immensely complicated albums that require much closer listening than the band’s debut releases. Romance is Boring still has its fun moments (the title alone!) but overall, there’s a twist toward something a little more serious.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.