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  • Rob


Camera Obscura has always been one of those bands I have said I liked without making any real effort to listen. I've enjoyed every song of theirs I've caught, but I needed more to spend my hard-earned money on them, so I was excited when this new album was delivered as part of my Rough Trade Club subscription.

For those unfamiliar, Camera Obscura is a Scottish indie-pop band that does a mean line in intelligent pop songs with the odd country number thrown in for good measure. They are massively represented on 'the scene' but have struggled with mainstream success, probably because of people like me who like them but don't buy their records.

Doing some digging, it turns out that this is the band's first album in eleven years, as they took a break to get over the untimely death of their keyboardist, Carey Lander. During this hiatus, lead singer and songwriter Tracyanne Campbell also had a baby, and for a time, it looked like the end for the Glaswegians. 

This album is a textbook Camera Obscura (based on what I've heard).  It's not the kind of album that will blow your speakers or tear your face off; it's a lot more nuanced and layered than that. Campbell's delicate, wavering voice draws you into a world of intimate, sugary, often melancholy songs.

The reviews have been positive overall. Many reviewers who were already fans praised a new album that has plenty of nods to the past, but this is where I'm coming unstuck.  I don't mind the album, but it isn't hooking me enough to play it repeatedly, which would make me love it.  

There isn't a bad song on the record, but there isn't one that makes me pick this up over some of the other new music I recently bought. 

It is a solid if unspectacular record for me, but I think that is because I'm a casual fan of the band; I don't Stan them as the kids might say.

Overall, it isn't a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. Would I have bought it if I had previewed it first on Spotify? Probably not. Should you buy it? It depends on whether you are a fan or like the idea of getting some subtle, intelligent, lovely pop into your collection. 

If you want this version, which comes on transparent violet vinyl with a bonus CD containing five demos, it is available from Rough Trade for £28. It is also available on Indies Only baby blue and white galaxy vinyl (which I think looks better) for the same price from the same vendor. 

Tracks To Try: 'We're Going to Make It in a Man's World', 'The Light Nights', 'Sleepwalking', 'Pop Goes Pop', 'Look to the East, Look to the West'


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