Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career

January 01, 1970

(4AD)

 

www.4ad.com

 

Camera Obscura may have started as a charming younger cousin
to their fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian-bookishly twee, sensitive,
self-reflexive and self-deprecating with a retro pop sensibility (and with
Stuart Murdoch himself helping out as producer). They called their second album
Underachievers Please Try Harder, and
they did, with their third: on 2006’s Let’s
Get Out of the Country
, they came into their own. With the help of Swedish
producer Jari Haapalainen, they cloaked their songs in strings and horns and
generally upped any available pleasure factor, and the instant classic single
“Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” was only the gateway hook to an album full
of joys.

 

Make that two albums full of joys, since My Maudlin Career continues where Let’s Get Out of the Country left off.
Haapalainen returns, as do the echoes of girl group teenage symphonies,
countrypolitan swooning and Dusty in
Memphis
melodrama. The trappings that seemed shiny and new on Country seem comfortable and natural on Career, and in some ways that makes this
one the better album (it’s a difficult call, though). Tracyanne Campbell’s
voice reverberates with ache and resignation-Jenny Lewis fans, take note-and
she dwells on heartbreak and regret, although you’d rarely guess that from the
glorious sounds of songs like “French Navy” and “You Told a Lie.” It’s an
oxymoronic friction, like a sad Motown song (say, “Tears of a Clown”): the sheer
power of the hooks and the densely melodic production trumps any hint of
sadness in the lyrics, but the tension and contrast is part of the lasting
rewards. And My Maudlin Career has
plenty of those. 

 

No need to try harder now: this one’s just fine.

 

Standout Tracks: “French Navy,” “My Maudlin Career,” “Careless Love” STEVE KLINGE

 

 

 

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