Camera Obscura

After three albums, it's now apparent that Camera Obscura is unfortuitously fated to revolve as a satellite in the Belle & Sebastian orbit. Like B&S, the six-piece outfit hails from Glasgow, and the band's lyrics -- courtesy of lead Obscurean Tracyanne Campbell -- are, like those of head Belle Stuart Murdoch, by turns coy (We can find a cathedral city / You can convince me I am pretty) and culturally literate (consider "Dory Previn," an ode to the cult singer-songwriter and shock-therapy survivor). Furthermore, both bands tilt unmistakably toward the twee axis, a sound redolent of simpler times (references to "the bee's knees" and so forth). But despite this genre gerrymandering, there is much to celebrate on Let's Get Out of This Country. From a well-made bed of inspired melancholia (see "Tears for Affairs," "Come Back Margaret," or "Country Mile") springs both "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" and the title track, two of the most precociously charming, Motown-spirited, string-sectioned sing-alongs of the past several years -- sweet enough to entice, yet sufficiently sticky to escape disposability.


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