Album Review: Camera Obscura - Desire Lines

26 July 2013 | 4:41 pm | Rachel Inglis

Camera Obscura’s strength has always been in the studio, and Desire Lines is another testament to that fact.

Desire Lines is Camera Obscura's fifth studio album, and what better way to break their four-year hiatus than with this soaring serenade of sweet indie pop songs.

On first listen the album is less buoyant than their previous records. Desire Lines takes a step back from the cutesy twee sound the Scottish group tailored alongside long-time friends Belle & Sebastian, but it's not gone altogether. A little extra synth and reverb has smoothed out their melodies, teamed with subtle electronic beats to add a more mature feel, while still echoing the, indie pop sounds Camera Obscura have always mastered. Tracyanne Campbell's vocals are still unmistakable, with familiar melodies and harmonies floating throughout the album, punctuated with guest backing vocals from Neko Case and Jim James.

At nearly 47 minutes, it takes longer than needed to get going, but is worth persevering with. The pace picks up mid-album with tracks like Do It Again and Every Weekday, before coming into its own for the home straight. I Missed Your Party is an instant standout with Campbell's earnest storytelling and a soulful swing feel emphasised by the brass backing throughout. It leads nicely into Break It To You Gently's upbeat synth and drum combo with jangling guitars settling into the background as a quiet reminder of the band's previous sound.

The record finishes with the title track, reminiscent of the slower moments of past albums with a little extra soul in Campbell's vocals and a little more of that country twang in the guitars. Camera Obscura's strength has always been in the studio, and Desire Lines is another testament to that fact.

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