Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country

Well, I must now prepare to never show my face down the indie-schmindie dancing or round certain record stores ever again.

Camera Obscura have (apparently) been kicking about Glasgow for the last decade or so. (Doesn’t time fly?) This is (I think) their third album. And it’s a completely schizo one too. A Country rock album dressed up in indie-pop tresses. How much of this is to do with the heavy handed over-production, we can only speculate. But, there’s nary a guitar string plucked that’s not delayed and chorused to the hilt. Moreso the vocals. Shame because those few moments where, lead Obscura, Traceyanne’s accent cuts through you get a glimpse at what this could’ve be. Most of the time she’d drenched in effects that seem to be there to mask the fact that she doesn’t have the voice for these type of songs. I mean, for all it’s lyrical archness (note to self: find new adjective) what is opener Hey Lloyd! I’m Ready To be Heartbroken other than a bargain basement version of 10000 ManiacsJack Kerouac? (Which may or may not have had a “Hey” in the title. Which could mean we’re getting all post-modern here. Woo! Retro!)

And, what of said archiality? Let me digress (and, probably cover old ground): If you listen carefully enough to The Verve‘s The Drugs Don’t Work there’s a brief point (inbetween the lines about the cat and coming down) where you can literally hear Ashcroft breaking into a grin as he thinks “wait ’til the fuckers get a load of this! Just, how profound am I? In fact, I think I’ll rattle that line out again at every possible opportunity throughout this song for the dimwits that aren’t likely to catch if but are the only muppets that would be taken in by this crap”. Em, or something like that anyway. There’s metaphor and there’s milking it. Sadly quite a lot of the latter is going on here. There’s metaphor and there’s milking it (see Country mile). And, none of it is as profound or even ironic as it’d like to think it is. In fact there’s a song about Dory Previn (called Dory Previn) with all the profundity of Sandi Thom. But, worst of all it fails to mangle a well known phrase or saying. Again to elucidate: Pop/rock/whatever is so great for expressing stuff because you and take proper syntax and pronunciation and be done with it just to get something to fit with your ass-shaking tune. Previously, this lot have known this, brilliantly rearranging the ass/elbow saying (on just how many levels does that work? Now that deserves a self-congratulatory pat on the back) just to fit a rhyme. Every time this song starts I just keep shouting “want to teach them lessons!”. The album is peppered with these.

As we get towards the close things pick up. We get The Motown Parody (which it might as well be called). And the chance to tap toes for a bit. Very nice it is too, but not really removed from Stop, the Spice Girls take on sixties girl groups. And, no more real worth. They follow this with I Need All The Friends I Can Get which is probably the most comfortable track on the album. However, it’s also the one that sounds most like that band we are not going to name (see all other reviews of this).

Closer, Razzle Dazzle Rose seems to sum up the whole enterprise. We come full circle with them stealing and copying from Lloyd Cole (more of that post-modernism, or is this post-plagiarism?). Only add the vocals of a bunch of second rate Lone Justice wannabes. All topped of with a really naff metaphor about not buying the right colour of lipstick ‘for you age’. Which of course gets trundled round several times. (Although, it closes with a very luverly instrumental outro where the mega-production begins to make some – some – sense. Bit late, though.)

I seem to have wasted a lot more words on telling you why I think this record is just wrong than I usually do. Could it be that I’m just really disappointed they failed to deliver the album they’ve been promising us? I’d rather this sold by the warehouse than [insert current emperors new clothes band here]. So, if you’re currently considering forking out on the aforesaid Ms Thom or, say, the new Keane album, then get this instead; it will make you a better human being and you will enjoy it better (and, if you don’t, just stop buying music you obviously don’t like it). However, their previous album was called Underachievers Please Try Harder. ‘Nuff said.


Written by Tony Kiernan

24 July 2006 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Records

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