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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisAcross four full-length albums and 14 years together, Camera Obscura's steadily evolved from a niche underground operation to a beloved indie pop band that's earned critical kudos all the world over. The first major break for the Scotland-based act came when BBC radio DJ John Peel announced his adoration, followed by a series of record label upgrades that now finds the band on 4AD (also the home of The National, St. Vincent and TV on the Radio).
Touring in support of last year's My Maudlin Career, the Tracyanne Campbell led troupe condensed its career into an engaging 16 song set that showcased its sweet and sunny synths, horn-slapped shimmers, guitar ground sophistication and generally romantic pop ditties. After opening with the cheerful title track to its latest disc, the group tore into the sublime "Tears for Affairs" and the glistening keyboard-centered cut "Let's Get Out of This Country."
The set soon shifted towards a purebred pop party as "French Navy" produced some of the most infectious sounds of the evening, complete with a spinning disco ball that proved the band didn't take itself too seriously. At the same time, there was no denying the players' musical sensibility, which despite an uneven sound mix at times, particularly shone on Campbell's meaty chords and Carey Lander's shiny synths.
Those co-leaders also interjected an understated but enticing undercurrent of sensuality into the selections presented, while also offering colorful off the cuff banter. Campbell introduced the pensive "Dory Previn" and "James" as "pretty much the same song wrapped up in a different package," while cuing "The World Is Full of Strangers" as a "b-side even though people don't buy records anymore."
However, a handful of fans spoke up to quip they indeed did still care about supporting artists, and as the 90-minute night wore on, they more than proved such loyalty by singing along with the Lloyd Cole and the Commotions-inspired "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" and "If Looks Could Kill" (albeit, with slightly out of time tribal drum beat accompaniment).
As "Razzle Dazzle Rose" wound down the show, the group exited with a momentum building crescendo that was nothing short of euphoric and yet another example of how Camera Obscura's thrived by loosely tipping its hat towards a myriad of influences (lush '80s pop, Belle & Sebastian) without ever coming across as derivative and demonstrating incalculable potential in the process.
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