Camera Obscura: Desire Lines

Written by May 31st, 2013 at 10:00 am

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Camera Obscura
Desire Lines
(4AD)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Little has changed in Glasgow quintet Camera Obscura’s sound since its luscious 2002 debut full length, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi. The production is bigger, the recording a touch more sophisticated but by and large, it’s all about auteur/lead singer Tracyanne Campbell’s sweet, innocent, succulent vocals. Her slightly retro, girl group pop features often edgy lyrics that belie the music’s droolingly pretty, perky and persistent melodies.

That lack of growth may be an issue for some acts, but considering Obscura’s seemingly bottomless pit of hummable tunes fronted by a singer whose pouty, sultry voice is instantly recognizable, there’s no need to fix what’s not broken.

Whether it’s the jazzy, country inflected title track with crying pedal steel or the relatively rocked out “Do It Again,” Campbell’s mellifluous voice floats over the proceedings, never leaving the spotlight. These songs soar, glide and seem effortless in their innocent simplicity. With occasional horns, strings and what seems like multiple overdubs, each has been meticulously handcrafted for maximum ear appeal courtesy of producer Tucker Martine. Neko Case on backing vocals further highlights the already decadent singing.

There aren’t many groups whose fifth album is as riveting as their first, but there also aren’t many groups with a vision as clear, focused and defined as that of Camera Obscura. And with Campbell at the helm, five more of the same will be just as welcome.

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