Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

Cam 10/04/2009

Rating: 3.5/5

All of a sudden, sometime in 2007, boys and girls without bowl cuts, quiffs or sixties fringes were talking about Camera Obscura. Recognition hadn't exactly been evasive for the Indie Pop sextet, but they were always what you would call a 'specialist band' that catered for those whose major perquisite was having listened thoroughly to 'that other late 90's Glaswegian indie pop band'. Fast forward to 2009 and kids from Kuala Lumpur (there's a fairly big Malaysian Indie Pop scene, you know) to Dundee are eagerly waiting for this one. Things, at least on the surface, had changed. No longer were they signed to Spanish label Elefant, instead it was the internationally recognised 4AD logo that graced the back of their record sleeves.

Time for the band to change radically and go all Scott Walker with songs about Mussolini and dead donkeys? Not quite, for they had been working on My Maudlin Career in the same way they had with their past record, moving to Sweden and hiring Jari Haapalainen as producer. One would have expected an even grander follow-up to the cinematic opulence of their previous effort the modern classic that already is Let's Get Out of the Country. But instead, and at the risk of drawing the pretentious parallels between a Scottish band and a Swedish film director, this is Camera Obscura's Summer With Monika, an uncertain, bleak and, yes, maudlin record.

Not that its sense of melancholy is downright apparent, with first track French Navy maintaining Obscura's reputation for crafting a lush pop record. But bar some remarkable exceptions throughout the album ˜The Sweetest Thing', 'Swans and 'Honey In The Sun'-, My Maudlin Career finds the Glaswegians in introspective mood. The 'maudlin' is in Tracyanne Campbell's less-processed and more vulnerable voice, expressing sorrow in almost every single stanza. Even for a thoughtful band that was sometimes mislabelled as twee, this is pretty depressing stuff. And the career Well it seems they don't even know where to take it. Even if this record should be a sort of transition, Campbell's book of melodies seems to be reaching its limit, while the band's sound doesn't seem to have progressed that much since their last offering. Seems like the perfect time to get out of that other country.

Release date: 20/04/2009