Camera Obsucura – Desire Lines

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Camera Obscura - Desire Lines

Artist: Camera Obscura
Album Title: Desire Lines
Released: June 3, 2013
Label: 4AD

Glasgow, Scotland’s beloved indie pop stalwarts return with a lush, satisfying collection of songs. Like their fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura embody indie pop at its most charming and clever, and Desire Lines, their fifth album, is a fine display of their talents. The instrumentation throughout the album is layered and pleasingly subdued, a tasteful canvas for singer Tracyanne Campbell’s sweetly calming vocals. Campbell is blessed with a naturally pristine singing voice, simultaneously airy and warm, and she uses it with unshakeable grace and control. Her particular quirks are especially endearing, as on “Williams’s Heart,” where she coolly slurs the repeated phrase “twenty year old” into just two syllables. Campbell’s lyrics tastefully ruminate on the dual topics of love and love lost, and she colors them with vivid details, such as  and “cheeks the colour of rhubarb” (“New Year’s Resolution”) and a TV that “makes the noise of a saltshaker” (“Troublemaker”).

Taken as a whole, Desire Lines is well paced; each song varies nicely in tempo and feel, from bouncy pop tunes to slow ballads, without ever being jarring. The songs are all uniformly unobtrusive and pleasing, with the unfortunate result that no one song particularly stands out on first listen. Still, there’s not a bad or even mediocre song on the album, and each repeated listen reveals more of the band’s subtle charms. Camera Obscura have crafted an exquisite indie pop record, the perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon.

Reviewed by John McAlmon.

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