There’s a lazy sort of pigeonholing which sees Camera Obscura being simply filed next to fellow Glaswegians Belle & Sebastian in the twee-pop/c-86-type indie. Fact is, there’s a lot more to it than that, and their fifth album (and second for 4AD) sees them offering up yet another appealing selection of tunes.
Whilst there have been some suggestions that this album doesn’t bring anything new to their sound, there’s more of a country-americana feel to their sound than ever before, and whilst it’s still recognisably Camera Obscura, there’s definitely less of the ‘twee’ about this album than any of their others (not that I am being dismissive of twee-pop, you understand).
This may be due, more than just in part, to the fact that it was recorded in Portland, Oregon with producer Tucker Martine, and features guest vocals from Neko Case and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Case -also just about to drop a new album -can be heard on the album’s strongest track ‘Fifth In Line To The Throne.’ This is Camera Obscura delivering their bittersweet pop in one of their finest recorded moments.
Traceyanne Campbell is actually rather underrated as a lyricist, and she’s at her strongest on ‘New Year’s Resolution’ resolving to ‘write something of value’ and suggesting that “I’ve been cool with you …The sooner you admit it, I will, too.”
I don’t know if this is their strongest album -I’ve really lived with Underachievers Please Try Harder and Let’s Get Out Of This Country the most. But it probably says something about how high a standard the band have set over the past decade-plus that this isn’t necessarily their best album, but it is most definitely a strong record and a very good place to start if you haven’t heard them before.
Desire Lines is out now on 4AD.
Camera Obscura -’Fifth In Line To The Throne.’ mp3