Desire Lines CD (2013)

Artist: Camera Obscura

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Product Overview


Label 4AD Records/ada
SKU 249660455
UPC 652637331424
UPC 14 00652637331424
Format CD
Release Date 6/4/2013
Author Camera Obscura
Associated Artist/Work Camera Obscura (California)
Technical Info
Engineer Tucker Martine
Producer Tucker Martine
CatalogID CAD 3314CD
Lable Name 4AD (USA)
Released 06/03/2013
Original Release 2013
Number of Discs 1
SPARE Code n/a
Length 46m : 45s
Mono/Stereo Stereo
Studio/Live Studio
UPC 00652637331424
Album Notes and Credits
Personnel: Tracyanne Campbell (vocals, guitar); Kenny McKeeve (guitar); Paul Brainard (pedal steel guitar); Nathaniel Smith (cello); Jeremy Kittel (strings); Dan Bechdolt (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Gilbert Elorreaga (trumpet); Mark V. Gonzales (trombone); Carey Lander (keyboards); Gav Dunbar (bass guitar); Lee Thomson (drums); Jim James, Neko Case (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Tucker Martine.
Recording information: Flora Recording And Playback.
Photographer: Anna Isola Crolla.
Glaswegian group Camera Obscura have dialed in their approach to indie pop perfection over the course of their lengthy run, starting out as the kid brother band to their friends in Belle & Sebastian, but finding a voice all their own by the time of their 2006 high-watermark album Let's Get Out of This Country. The 2009 follow-up My Maudlin Career and now fifth album Desire Lines don't see Camera Obscura wildly altering their sound, but there's a certain development that comes from years of refining their increasingly cool and self-assured songs. Desire Lines was delayed by a two-year period of uncertainty for the band, where illness and other personal problems put things on indefinite pause for a while. When the clouds cleared in 2012, the group traveled to Portland, Oregon to work with new producer Tucker Martine (R.E.M., Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens). The result is another installment of brilliant pop from the group, with vocalist Tracyanne Campbell's now trademark mixture of heartbreaking and sharply astute lyrical turns guiding the songs through either romantic longing, dour tragedy, or touches of the band's more and more familiar dry sense of humor. The production is somewhat more clear than previous efforts, relying less on reverb and stuffing the frequency ranges with even more string sections, odd percussion, and pop accents than before. The upbeat tunes like "Troublemaker" and "Do It Again" flirt with synth pop undertones in the form of interlocking synthesizer lines and drum machine-like beats that meld with Campbell's sad-hearted harmonies and the more familiar Bacharach-ian percussion of previous albums. The lush melancholia of "William's Heart" evokes the soft, airy sadness of the Go-Betweens or even early solo Morrissey, the repeating lyrical coda "To die in the arms of a 20-year-old" giving the song an uneasy connotation that entwines death, aging, and heartbreak. Elsewhere, "Every Weekday" hits the same stride between jaunty and sad that the Smiths excelled at, with Johnny Marr-esque guitar playing and a singsongy melody. Campbell's lyrics hit the balance between comical and utterly devastated throughout the record, with references to watching Flashdance repeatedly somehow making sense next to lines about rejection and bitterly failed loves. What's most striking about Desire Lines is the sense that, even in all the unsettled feelings and somewhat self-effacing themes of their music, Camera Obscura are completely comfortable in their skin at this point. In a roundabout way, Desire Lines is reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian's 2003 effort Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Though that album was spottier and more stylistically all over the place, it seemed like the most deliberate album from B&S at the time, and that every choice was emphatically decided on, regardless of the sometimes weird or unpopular results. Desire Lines has a similar feel of a band bounding out of the gates with a renewed creative energy. Here it results in some of their best and most confident work to date. ~ Fred Thomas
Professional Reviews
Mojo (Publisher) (p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "DESIRE LINES is the immaculately conceived album they've always threatened to make."
Disc 1
1 Intro
2 This Is Love (Feels Alright)
3 Troublemaker
4 William's Heart
5 New Year's Resolution
6 Do It Again
7 Cri du Coeur
8 Every Weekday
9 Fifth In Line To the Throne
10 I Missed Your Party
11 Break It To You Gently
12 Desire Lines
Product Attributes
Artist Camera Obscura
Label 4ad Records
Music Format Compact Disc

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