album reviews

Camera Obscura
Let's Get Out of This Country
Merge (2006)

Camera Obscura is often lumped together with Belle & Sebastian: Both hail from Glasgow, both perform insanely catchy twee pop and B&S's Stuart Murdoch even produced Camera Obscura's first single in 2001. Those sonic similarities still exist, but the opening track on Camera Obscura's third album, "Let's Get Out of This Country," bears a closer resemblance to the shimmering pop of the Field Mice. Frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell brightly coos, "Hey Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken / 'Cause I can't see further than my own nose at the moment" over a melody so majestically lush and bouncy that her words seem more playful than dramatic.

Even when the sextet slows down a bit, it never abandons that innate breeziness, despite Campbell's often forlorn lyrics. She searches for her heartbreak's silver lining, from her lilting "Let's get out of this country / I have been so unhappy" on the title track to "Dory Previn," a mellow ode to getting over an ex by listening to Previn, the singer-songwriter whose husband left her for Mia Farrow.

It's that literate, enchanting tone that keeps Camera Obscura's heavy themes so light. Even on the album's darkest, most despondent number, "Country Mile," Campbell's breathy lament of "I don't believe in true love anyway" still carries a glimmer of hope. She doesn't capture the rosiest emotions, but she's so adept at spinning heartbreak in a positive light that even the most dismal situations don't seem quite so bad after all.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 19 January 2007, Page WE07
.: Let's Get Out of This Country on