Camera Obscura
Let’s Get Out of This Country
2006
C



putting your brilliant single at the front of your album usually means one of two things. Either it’s an assertion that there’s plenty more like that (or better) to come or it’s an admission of defeat—effectively waving a white flag and admitting that, yes, this is what you bought the damn thing for.

Let's Get Out of This Country, the third album from Glasgow indie-popsters Camera Obscura, begins with brilliant single “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.” It’s a lush, swooning pop song of the highest order, directed at Lloyd Cole, featuring extra-fantastic organ bits, a wide-eyed, catchy chorus, and a doubtful undercurrent that makes it all the more sweet on multiple listens. From there, it’s only a matter of which way to go, and sadly it’s very much the second route. Let's Get never reaches the same heights again.

“Tears for Affairs” immediately slows things down to a crawl and brings up the same problem that dogged their sporadically excellent previous album Underachievers Please Try Harder: Tracyanne Campbell has a glassy, gorgeous voice, but it’s also a curiously inexpressive one. When she’s left to carry less than strong songs alone, they suffer as a result.

On “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” and a couple of other songs, namely the title track and delightfully sour “If Looks Could Kill,” her vocals are the icing on the cake, but no-one wants to eat a load of icing on its own. Instead, too many songs drift by in a pretty, flimsy haze. The worst offender, agonisingly overstretching the slightest, slowest of songs to over four minutes with little in the way of change or interest, is “Dory Previn.” Which they rhyme with [turn up to] eleven.

It’s no coincidence that, as well as being the most upbeat, the three best songs are the most lushly arranged and produced, full of loving, Wall of Sound-like detail. Similar touches help make “Country Mile,” despite Campbell’s voice and the derivative songwriting, the only slower triumph. Perhaps a greater emphasis on this—and a few more storming pop numbers—could make their next album more than one great single and handful of fine moments spread too thinly.


Reviewed by: Iain Forrester
Reviewed on: 2006-06-06
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