April 21, 2009 - 4AD
Going by the Belle & Sebastian career calendar-and why not, when that's where Camera Obscura got everything from their bookish aesthetic to their guitar tones--Glasgow's second most popular retro-brass sock-hop mopes should be well into their experimental phase by now. Instead, their brilliant orchestral-pop blueprint remains, thankfully, untouched. From the sound of it, success hasn't done much to lift singer Tracyanne Campbell's spirits though ("You Told A Lie"). Throughout 11 maudlin tracks, she channels her heartbroken-1950s-teenager character for another go 'round ("French Navy," "The Sweetest Thing"). Strings and hearts swoon, handclaps and snares pop, and bells and chimes ring out. It might sound formulaic, if it weren't so gorgeous.