Album review: Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career
To those in the know, twee-pop six-piece Camera Obscura have been making great music since 1996. Debut long-player ‘Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi’ contained ‘Eighties Fan’, one of indie pop’s great lost singles. ‘Underachievers Please Try Harder’ (released in 2003 on Merge, the tiny label that first brought you Arcade Fire) featured a bespectacled teddy bear on the sleeve and 11 flawless songs inside, and ‘Let’s Get Out Of This Country’ (2005) added a Spector-esque sheen to the Glaswegian band’s C86-indebted sound. A good band, then, with great songs, and those of us who were paying attention liked them an awful lot. It was just a shame, we all thought, that they couldn’t sign to a bigger label so that more people could share. If only…
Enter legendary Brit-indie label 4AD (home of Pixies, Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins), Camera Obscura’s first home that isn’t run from a bedroom/shed/kitchen top, who offer forth the band’s fourth and best collection of songs yet. Make no mistake, this is
a remarkably beautiful record; from principal singer Tracyanne Campbell’s sombre lament that “My maudlin career must come to an end/I don’t want to be sad again” on the title tune, to ‘You Told A Lie’ coming on like Lou Reed’s ‘Coney Island Baby’ with added swoon, to the we’ve-come-to-the-end-of-the-road hymn that is ‘James’ (“He said we could still be friends…”), ‘My Maudlin Career’ is the kind of record that exists to reward those both mad, and sad, in love.
Those of us who’ve been there from the beginning are currently preparing to shunt up to accommodate the inevitable and imminent swelling of the Camera Obscura fanclub…