Scotland’s penchant for churning out remarkable indie-pop is well-documented. Groundwork laid in the â€˜80s by groups like The Pastels and The Vaselines established a palette of raw, earnest singers with wide-eyed lyrics, guitars alternately droning or jangling, and rhythm sections no stranger to 1960s American pop-rock. This lovably twee sound, equally indebted to â€˜60s girl groups and Scotland’s famously crummy weather, gave direction to the next generation of Scot-pop bands like The Delgados, Arab Strap, Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol (a brief aside: if you’re not already familiar, look into their supergroup The Reindeer Section for more excellent cheery/dreary Scottish indie-pop). Nowadays you can find Camera Obscura bearing the torch for this heart-wrenching genre. My Maudlin Career, their first album for renown 4AD Records, teeters between romantic longing and dreadful loneliness, pinning prickly lyrics to sweet, sweet melodies. Singer/songwriter Tracyanne Campbell holds center stage as that familiar, tragic heroine; happiness always just out of reach, love fleeting at best. Ratcheting up the melodrama, producer Jari Haapalainen sets Tracyanne’s siren songs in an environment as reverberant as Phil Spector’s cold, dank jail cell. Like Ophelia communicating through some underwater spectral image, her farewells slice through the damp, reverb-soaked mix. Standout cuts â€œFrench Navy,â€ â€œThe Sweetest Thingâ€ and the album’s title track rank high amongst Camera Obscura’s catalog, and the plaintive â€œOther Towns and Citiesâ€ is simply cut-yourself-good. My Maudlin Career does have its share of pleasantly forgettable moments, but as a whole the album is pure, sweet romance.
Tags: 4ad records, amazon, Belle and Sebastian, camera obscura, Camera Obscura Review -- My Maudlin Career on 4AD Records, crummy weather, forgettable moments, french navy, girl groups, phil spector, pop bands, reindeer section, rhythm sections, romantic longing, singer-songwriter, siren songs, spectral image, sweet melodies, sweet romance, tragic heroine, vaselines