Camera Obscura are one of those excellent British bands who, inexplicably, have just never really made it over here, and yet have been embraced wholeheartedly by our friends across the Atlantic. My Maudlin Career is their fourth effort, and quite possibly the album to break their duck on these shores.
This may be a gross generalisation, but quite how such a rainy country can consistently produce bands capable of soundtracking any summer day you care to think of is beyond me. Camera Obscura are one of those bands, effortlessly producing songs that, on the surface, embody every aspect of happiness and fun. But it’s just that veneer of sunshine that makes them quite so interesting, because at the heart of the band, Tracyanne Campbell’s lyrics are a very different prospect. Very much the brooding Hyde to Belle & Sebastian’s upbeat Jekyll, the music may be summery, but the subjects of those songs are the product of nothing but winter.
From the ‘50s-inflected guitar and doo-wop beat of “Swans” to the blustery, joyous violin strains of debut single “French Navy” every track is unmistakably Camera Obscura but without losing their individual appeal. There are some truly beautiful moments too, the gently orchestral feel of “Careless Love” couldn’t be matched by many other bands so perfectly, and it’s these moments that show just how confident they are now with their own niche.
This album is less about innovation as refinement, but it’s that improvement that makes this album such a joy; this isn’t a band hitting their stride, this is a band who are starting to run after that stride and creating something truly lovely from beginning to end as a result.