Glasgow’s Camera Obscura have been making music for a decade, carried through
the ups and downs of various line-up changes and the tender pain of daily life
by the sweetly sad voice of Tracyanne Campbell. The band has had several line-up
changes since founder members Tracyanne Campbell and Gavin Dunbar first began
rehearsing together back in 1996. Since the amicable departure of Nigel Baillie
(percussionist, trumpeter and proud daddy) in 2008, who still pops up onstage
occasionally, they have existed as a five-piece.
Prior to 2006, the group had released several indie singles (the earliest of
which were collated on a Japanese-only EP called "Rare UK Bird" in 1999) and two
full-length studio albums: "Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi" (on the local DIY label
Andmoresound Records – 2001); and "Underachievers Please Try Harder" (through
Spanish independent Elefant Records – 2003).
A key supporter of the group throughout this time was the late, legendary DJ
John Peel who gave them frequent plays and sessions (they were to do five Peel
Sessions in total). The band gigged intermittently and over time, they were able
to build up a dedicated, cult following throughout UK and Europe.. Their
Madrid-based label sub-licensed "Underachievers…" to the respected US
independent label Merge Records. Camera Obscura toured North America for the
first time in the summer of 2004. Progress was to prove steady but despite
discerning fans continuing to discover them in higher numbers, the prospect of
the band becoming a full-time concern still remained tantalisingly elusive.
In the summer of 2005, Camera Obscura enlisted the Swedish producer Jari
Haapalainen (Ed Harcourt, The Concretes) to work on their next album, "Let’s Get
Out Of This Country" (Elefant / Merge - 2006). Pre-production sessions for the
new album began in September 2005 and Jari turned out to be an inspired choice;
fully realising not just the potential of Tracyanne Campbell’s songs and
remarkable voice, but also the ensemble musicianship of the group as a whole.
The finished album was and is a strong, confident artistic statement, boasting a
more powerful, cohesive sound than any previous Camera Obscura offerings.
Brilliantly produced and beautifully arranged, it featured entrancing, immediate
pop/rock songs such as the lead single "Lloyd I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken" with
its six impassioned choruses, alongside more downbeat yet melodic offerings
"Dory Previn" and the stark, sweeping wails of "Country Mile".
Reaction from fans and media was enthusiastic: "You might not find heartache as
enchanting as this anywhere else," stated All Music Guide. ‘Lloyd…’, proved the
perfect step-off as well, scoring Single of the Week in The Guardian and
repeated plays on high profile radio shows (Jonathan Ross and Dermot O’ Leary on
Radio 2; Record of the Week on Lauren Laverne’s XFM London show; an A-listing at
BBC 6music). After his successful touches on the last album, they returned to
Sweden to work once more with producer Jari Haapalainen. "My Maudlin Career"
showcases Jari's wonderful understanding with the band. Songs such as "French
Navy", "Honey In The Sun", "Swans" and "Away With Murder" typify another strong
body of work that’s sure to delight, ensuring the band to continue their upward
trajectory. In 2009 Camera Obscura signed a worldwide deal with feted indie 4AD,
in a move that some fans felt a perfect match and "My Maudlin Career" was
released on April 20th.
ALL MUSIC GUIDE - "A necessary addition to the collection of
Belle & Sebastian fans, indie pop fans, and music lovers."
UNCAT - "Revitalising indie-pop"