Album Review

My Maudlin Career

My Maudlin Career

by Camera Obscura


4AD
7 / 10
13th May 2009

Reviewed by Paul Gallagher


I have tried numerous times to get into this band.

  I have, honestly I have!  

I have heard enough of their airily light pop tunes from their last three albums to be capably able to talk about them over tea and cake sitting on a blanket in the sunny fruit tree-adorned backlawn of any of my twee-inclined friends' parents' summer cottages. But other than a few tracks from their last full-length Let's Get Out Of This Country, much of their music has gone in one ear and out the other in a haze of cuteness.  

Until now: this album has a suprising level of depth to it. Frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell says that this album is "quite dark" and "brutal". Well, it is - in their terms, it's depressingly sad. The album is much more, well, maudlin and reflective than their past outings and while the formula hasn't changed much, the mood certainly has. As per their usual modus operandi, this is an album about life and life's loves - but it's also full of darker tones of losing love and pondering life.  

"You Told a Lie", "Forests And Sands", "James" are clearly the standouts on this album once you look past the appeal of the power twee ballads of opener "French Navy" and the final track "Honey In The Sun". "James" in particular is a crushing tale of rejection and the colder sides of life - it is the salt to accompany the sugar that the more upbeat tracks offer. "I've really been struggling, to think of you and I being friends...", Campbell sings, "...So I don't think I should see you again." The new density of some of the lyrics on these few standouts show that some of the peppy curiousity of the last few albums has been replaced by a knowingly once-bitten twice-shy attitude to life. There are some whisky-ridden headaches and heartbreaks to temper the innocence that still lies here.  

This album is produced by Jari Haapalainen who produced The Concretes and Peter, Bjorn & John - and upon comparing these bands there's little surprise in this fact, and considering the niche they're appealing to you really can't blame them for siding with the Swede when he has credentials like that. But it's all just a little bit safe, you know? But when you know where to get the sound you want, you just go out and get it.  

All in all, Camera Obscura have delivered another album to please both loyal diehard fans and potentially attract a few, more weather beaten, new friends to the fold.

Paul Gallagher




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