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Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career



Camera Obscura

Album: My Maudlin Career
Label: 4AD

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The fourth album by Glasgow’s Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career, doesn’t exactly live up to its title, but it isn’t terribly cheerful, either. When Tracyanne Campbell (who often sounds remarkably like Jenny Lewis) sings “I don’t want to be sad again” on the title track, fans can be forgiven for asking when she plans on cheering up. The songs work best when the band sticks to the balsa-wood wall of sound formula; they get into a spot of trouble when trying something different. The sing-songy “Swans” is too jangly (think 10,000 Maniacs’ In My Tribe), and the opener “French Navy” is a ’60s throwback, like The Pipettes minus the sexy energy. Lyrics such as “You make me go woo-oo-oo with the things that you do” are perhaps meant to be ironic, but come across as lazy. The tempo seems to get slower as the album continues, almost like a nap (or a dream, for those who prefer their glasses half-full). Then the final track, “Honey In The Sun,” suddenly shakes things up. It’s one of the best songs here: energetic, danceable, and fun. More like that and My Maudlin Career would have been much better.