Glasgow’s Camera Obscura have been making music for a decade, carried through the ups and downs of various line-up changes and the tender pain of daily life by the sweetly sad voice of Tracyanne Campbell. The band has had several line-up changes since Tracyanne and Gavin Dunbar first began rehearsing together back in 1996. Since 2008 they've been a five-piece.
A key supporter of the group throughout the band's earlier years was the late, legendary DJ John Peel who gave them frequent plays and sessions (they were to do five Peel Sessions in total). The band gigged intermittently developing a dedicated cult following throughout theUK.
In the summer of 2005, Camera Obscura enlisted the Swedish producer Jari Haapalainen (Ed Harcourt, The Concretes) to work on their album, Let’s Get Out Of This Country. Jari turned out to be an inspired choice; fully realizing not just the potential of Tracyanne Campbell’s songs and remarkable voice, but also the ensemble musicianship of the group as a whole. The finished album was a confident artistic statement, boasting a more powerful, cohesive sound than any previous Camera Obscura offerings.
Their most recent album release, My Maudlin Career continues the sincere homage to a departed age; bittersweet and self-deprecating, the album languishes somewhere between Mates of State's organ-driven pop and Beck's Modern Guilt. The result is not nearly as novel or dorkishly handsome as their previous release, but it still manages to exude addictive gorgeousness. Such splendor will allow many listeners to forgive Maudlin's woeful posturing, a kind of cutesy-poo, melancholy selling point whose beauty is matched only by its heavy-handedness.
Camera Obscura have arrived at a sound centered on Campbell’s self-reflective loneliness and their evocation of some great ‘60s sounds and moods. -Caroline Bastarache
Camera Obscura and Papercuts perform in the Pearl Street Ballroom on Tuesday 11/24 at 8:30.