While Glasgow’s Camera Obscura have changed labels for each of their four full-lengths (now currently on 4AD), their brighter alt-country ensemble sounds hasn’t radically differed, and that’s still the case on their latest, My Maudlin Career. Some tracks do go more towards bigger alt-girl-group, while others bring a sad sway & twang, while still others have an orchestral sound. Sometimes tracks in the same vein sound a little too similar and are too bunched together, but Camera Obscura is able to keep it all tight.
While your favorite vision of Obscura may depend on your mood, the best seems to be the bigger girl-group pop of opener/single “French Navy”, the following “The Sweetest Thing”, and finisher “Honey In the Sun”. Though maybe that’s because it’s less used on Maudlin, each piece stands out more (though the bigger choruses are stronger than the smaller verses). The orchestral epics “James”, “Careless Love”, and the title track are unfortunately stacked one-two-three in the middle, but in this case, less is more: the wistful sustain of “James” makes it a heartbreaker, while “Careless Love” seems a bit over-orchestrated.
Between the beginning & middle, and the middle & end, Camera Obscura employ a striking alt-country twang all their own, even if pieces like “Away With Murder”, the following “Swans”, and later “Forest and Sands” do seem a bit interchangeable. The band does occasionally move away from these three avenues, like with the sweet & touching “You Told a Lie”, and the strip + echo “Other Towns and Cities”, but those aren’t as refined.
Camera Obscura really does deal in light, from girl-group brightness to sad, shadowed alt-country twang. My Maudlin Career would be helped if they varied the tracks up a bit more, as similar pieces are often right next to each other, but it still shines through.
MP3 Stream: “Honey In the Sun”