It’s simply amazing to me that a group from the drizzly grey of Glasgow could consistently creates such effervescent, make-you-want-to-sing-along head-bopping pop music — but that's exactly what Camera Obscura does time and again. Their fifth album, Desire Lines, is a stunningly bright ray of musical sunshine.
This latest release is grounded in beach music and the classic sounds of 50’s rock. Not that lead singer Traceyanne Campbell channels The Ronettes or anything, but the influences are subtly present. Absent are the soaring horn runs and orchestration of past hits like “French Navy,” replaced rather by soft-about-the-edges string melodies. Campbell’s voice is the real star of the record, wonderfully supported by subdued instrumentation. Her range is amazing, dreamily lilting into the atmosphere on “This is Love (Feels Alright)” and then breaking like delicate china teacups on “Every Weekday.”
The addition of Neko Case (!!) on backing vocals lends perfect symmetry to the feel of the record, even sounding very similar to something she could have created herself. Case’s and Campbell’s voices blend in such tummy-warming harmony, maybe we can look forward to further collaborations in the future? I can only dream.
The first single “Do It Again” is the flashiest of the twelve tracks, and is the one that will get you up and on your dancing feet — but my favorite is “I Missed Your Party,” a heartfelt apology letter set to a swaying rhythm that will take you right back to your first slow dance from sixth grade. All these songs are about love and breakups and finding love again, themes that us stupid humans have been trying to decipher since adolescence. Camera Obscura’s lyrics make you feel like it’s totally cool that as adults, we still just haven’t gotten the hang of it.