Review: Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
Published on June 16th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
This fifth album’s worth of gorgeousness from the Glasgow indie pop favourites had Rocksucker just a trifle concerned and then utterly won over all within its opening moments: “This is Love (Feels Alright)” arouses suspicion by kicking off with an icky smooth sax line before instantly redeeming itself the moment Tracyanne Campbell introduces her luxurious vocals with the line “When I found your girlfriend crying, I could have slapped you in the face”. A radiant, soulful sway and some lovely lead guitar hammer-ons later, and Desire Lines doesn’t look back…except, that is, at Camera Obscura’s own lush precedents.
Desire Lines is – and t’was ever thus – Camera Obscura doing what Camera Obscura do best. “Troublemaker” is the antithesis of its title insomuch as it’ll leave you feeling all cosy and safe, reassuringly rather than boringly so. Whereas some bands frustrate through a resolute unwillingness to try something different, others hit upon a winning formula early on and gradually ramp up the levels of artistry with each passing release.
Camera Obscura’s is one such successfully linear progression, marking “Do It Again” as a much more suitably titled affair: Campbell’s “You were insatiable / I was more than capable” could be construed as a love letter to the band’s fan base, a warm, fuzzy guitar and that ever-present melodiousness slipped affectionately into the envelope like so many Love Hearts and trinkets. “Every Weekday”, with its promise of “I won’t let you down”, could also be taken as such.
Basically, it’s wall-to-wall treats – “Cri Du Coeur” is as stirringly stringswept as its title suggests, while “I Missed Your Party” and the closing title track are nuggets of pure, sophisticated pop gold – so the lack of surprises on offer doesn’t feel excessively detrimental. True greatness may elude Camera Obscura on account of their relative predictability, but we’ll be damned if we’re holding that against them when they continue to do it as well as this.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Desire Lines is out now on 4AD.