June 22, 2010

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

"Spent a week in a dusty library, waiting for some words to jump in me. We met by a trick of fate, French Navy (song title) my sailor mate." sings Tracyanne Campbell as My Maudlin Career kicks off. Indeed, maudlin is a good word to describe this hippity-happity opening track. But I think my favorite part about it is just the feeling that your listening to them in this huge concert hall, with no audience other than yourself, as the sound bounces off the walls and sustains. Although I can't imagine a dreamy, indie pop band like Camera Obscura would ever only have one audience member. The only thing I don't like about this song is the kind of whiny sounding vocals at the beginning, as if she's squeezing the words out of her throat. If you listen to it, you might know what I mean. Then comes The Sweetest Thing, which literally is, the sweetest thing. It starts off with a catchy drum beat, and a few "oohs". Sounds like it's going somewhere. But not really. Or at least not to me. But it's a great one for late-night car drives. The next two tracks are also pretty averyage, sad songs. But then hey! Out of nowhere comes the childish-melody of Swans, the next song, and all the happiness just rushes back inside, swelling you up with sheer joy, so much that you feel like you want to punch something/someone. It's a really great feeling. Just take caution sometimes. Okay but seriously, this song is very sweet-as-sugar. When I listen to it, I think of a very pink and colorful place where everything is made out of candy. Maybe I'm thinking of my recent BMSR review. Or maybe I'm thinking of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. That movie creeped me out as a kid. Especially the scene where Agustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river and gets sucked up the spout. Anyway, completely off topic. After that Careless Love opens up with a lovely orchestra for about 4 seconds. Oh, I forgot to mention, the strings and horns for this whole album were arranged by none other than Bjorn, of PB&J! You can't really get any more rpople than that. Now the song (in C) might just seem like Away With Murder, or You Told A Lie, but about half way through, it picks itself up a whole step and a half (we're at E flat for you non-music-readers) and Campbell wails away, whilst Bjorn's strings carry on throughout the rest of the song. But wait. It gets better when the title track reveals itself. I think this is the most concert-hall-ish song here, especially with the delicate octave keys at the very end of the piano, which gives it just the perfect touch. They also managed somehow to mix this with the thwack of an electric guitar. But like oreos and milk, it's the absolute perfect combination. Next is the lullaby-like ballad Other Towns and Cities. Now, this just really sounds like they're playing live in some big room somewhere. I love it! And it's really similar to Country Mile, a song on Let's Get Out Of This Country. After this song quietly ends, the exact opposite tone comes from the somewhat sassy Honey In The Sun, an epic 6 minute-er. Every album has theirs. And you can't go wrong with Bjorn's epic horns, right? Yeah. Just one thing. It's really repetitive. Honestly, when I was listening to it, it felt like 2 and a half minutes. After this one, The World Is Full Of Strangers skips its way in. A country-sounding guitar line, mixed with a couple maracas, mixed with an acoustic guitar, mixed with drums, mixed with the lead singer's vocals is all it takes for you to leave a good impression on the album on a whole. Unless you don't like it, of course. But I doubt you would.
To conclude, this record seems like it has a lot of fillers, and a few tracks are a little too similar, but the weight of other songs like Careless Love and My Maudlin Career weigh it out enough so that it doesn't fall behind 6 and a half stars. Basically, if you're just starting out on Camera Obscura, I would recommend this whole album. But if you're a long-time fan like I, maybe just get a few songs would do.


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