Glaswegian indie-pop act ‘Camera Obscura’ arrived in Dublin on Monday night to play at the Button Factory instead of the original Vicar Street venue. Fresh from maternity leave after their album ‘Desire Lines’ released in 2013, there was high hopes and expectations.
‘Oh Cry Baby’ opened on support, John Waters, one man and his folk-rock songs of police cars, shame, love and family. Quirky, lingering vocals reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, ‘Oh Cry Baby’ is recommended to check out in future (he may have stolen the show!).
Fast forward some years since the wonderful – ‘Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi’ (2001) and ‘Underachievers, Please Try Harder’ (2003) and ‘Let’s Get Out Of This Country’ (2006), there are wonderful gems amongst their five studio albums. However, much has changed during the ‘Desire Lines’ album Campbell and the band for there is a decidedly dreary undertone to these songs and, as hard as it is to fault them, as they play as perfectly live, as their studio albums.
‘Break It To You Gently’ which was sickly sweet, slightly hypnotic with nice ambient keys was in perfect harmony with Campbell’s sultry vocal. The crowd really seemed to enjoy and appreciated the band. Slide guitar into ‘New Years Resolution’ and loves lost, the lady has had some ups and downs – ‘I’ve been cool with you, the sooner you admit it I will too’.
The sweetness with undertones of deep unhappiness continued, but the ‘loves lost’ theme began to grind on me personally. The sameness, the heartache and the heartbreak – not very uplifting for the soul. ‘I vote for you love’ lyric was one the highlights. Campbells voice is gorgeous, but wait for it ‘…you can’t stay, so you go’.
It was nice to hear more from the ‘My Maudin Career’ (2009) album because ‘French Navy’ is such a classic. Although, some of the songs were uplifting, it is the lyrics that you must endure and the mood from ‘Desire Lines’ is hard not to notice, it grinded what was left of the upbeat mood I had at the beginning of the concert.
Brian Howe of Pitchfork wrote about the album Desire Lines (2013) , where he noticed a strain that has become current in the bands music over the last decade ‘a dogged, calculated growth can be traced from record to record. The folksy early-Belle & Sebastian style of Biggest Bluest Hi Fi (produced by Stuart Murdoch) was perfected, and tinged with dreamy 1950s rock, on the classic Underachievers Please Try Harder’. I am inclined to agree with Howe’s description of the latest body of work.
I believe that those in the mood for down tempo surely had a wonderful night and may not agree with my laments of past albums. The lyrics simply do not sit with my current frame of mind, so there are again high hopes and expectations for the follow album, which hopefully will be of a more uplifting nature.
Review by Aine Byrne
1. Break It to You Gently
2. New Year’s Resolution
3. Let’s Get Out…
4. Forests & Sands
5. Desire Lines
6. Honey In The Sun
7. French Navy
8. This Is Love (Feels Alright)
9. Cri du coeur
10. Country Mile
11. Every Weekday
12. Do It Again
13. If Looks Could Kill
14. Hey!! Lloyd
15. My Maudlin Career
17. Books Written for Girls
18. Razzle Dazzle Rose