Camera Obscura: 4AD Session

There simply isn't enough to make this installment in the 4AD Session series more than just a mild curiosity.

Camera Obscura

4AD Session

Label: 4AD
US Release Date: 2014-04-19

As far as I can tell, the consensus remains that Camera Obscura’s 2013 album Desire Lines was good but ultimately a disappointment because it contained no powerhouse singles a la “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” (from 2006’s Let’s Get Out of the Country) or “French Navy” (from 2009’s My Maudlin Career). But watching Camera Obscura perform these songs live on the 4AD website, four of which were packaged for a 2014’s Record Store Day release (“Desire Lines” has been dropped), it becomes clear that the band is trying harder than ever. The drummer is no longer doing the big booming things as on My Maudlin Career (see: “French Navy", “The Sweetest Thing", “Away With Murder", etc.); he’s spicing things up with drum rolls practically everywhere. Meanwhile, they've replaced the minimal violin touches and reverb with guitars galore.

Unfortunately, the fact remains that although Tracyanne Campbell’s personality remains as lovable as ever, she’s both running out of things to say and ways of saying them. And though there are nuances between these versions and their studio counterparts (“Fifth in Line to the Throne” replaces the raindrop-like keyboards that came in halfway through with weaving guitar lines; elsewhere, a tambourine rattles nearly everywhere), there simply isn't enough to make this more than just a mild curiosity.


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