Happy Anniversary: Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country

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This turns ten today, which is fitting since the album, and Camera Obscura in general, and twee pop in general, are all befitting for the summer: it sounds like a coffee date, like a jaunt through BMV post-coffee, like the subsequent heartbreak post-jaunt. But Camera Obscura – mostly Tracey Campbell, a.k.a. twee incarnate – aren’t that great of a band, and Tracey’s one-dimensional herself. This album’s mostly a carrying case for the big single (“Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”), a few snippets of melodies placed right after (“Shedding tears for affairs…”, with some accordion; “Come back, Margaret…”, with some handclaps) and a lot of sentiment carrying songs (the title track). The closer’s breezy, if a waste of time (My Maudlin Career’s closer has the same problem). Fellow Scottish twee poppers, Belle and Sebastian, released their seventh album that same year, and though nothing on The Life Pursuit beats “Lloyd,” the album as a whole is better because Stuart Murdoch is influenced by more than just chamber pop cum reverb (books too), and the album was sustained by more than just one song. In fact, though this one’s shorter than My Maudlin Career, I’d say that one’s better because it houses two great songs instead of one, and Tracey’s lyrics became less vague on that one. Even Regina Spektor’s album that same year has a better killer-filler ratio, and Regina’s singing and sentiment are just as sweet if not sweeter. Lots of other places to go, in other words. And on “Lloyd,” when the girl narrator is clearly the one in the wrong (most important lyric: “I can’t see farther than my nose at this moment”) but you end up backing her because the strings and her singing and even the lonesome organ intro handing off to the full band, you know they’ve done something right. I mean, shit, right? The guy’s name is Lloyd.

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