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As far as Scottish bands go, Camera Obscura has had quite an impressive run. Since its inception in 1996, the band earned the blessings of late British DJ John Peel, survived multiple line-up changes, and released five critically well-received albums. Camera Obscura’s latest, Desire Lines, just came out in June and the band is currently on their first supporting tour with She and Him to promote it. We were delighted to name Camera Obscura the WERS Artist of the Week as they took time out of their busy schedule to stop by our studio for a few songs before their opening set at the Bank of America Pavilion.
Camera Obscura kicked things off with “Do It Again” off their brand new album. The song showcased the kind of beautiful and melancholy melodies that Camera Obscura made their names with. The song’s instrumentation was slower live than recorded yet still had a spirited pace, especially combined with the clean, classy vocals and flowery lyrics of Tracyanne Campbell. She sounds just as beautiful and heartfelt live as she does on record, even when she has a baby on board (she’s currently six months pregnant)! Tracyanne didn’t need to rely very heavily on reverb either, as she explained with a strong Scottish accent after the performance while discussing what makes Desire Lines stand out from their previous work: “We wanted to use a bit less reverb because our last albums were very live recording-centered and were drowned in reverb and that was our thing… but we wanted to try something a bit more controlled and studio-y [with Desire Lines].”
At the end of their brief, two-song set, Camera Obscura launched into a very bittersweet and emotional cover of 10cc’s “Not In Love”. With heavenly, almost aquatic sounding guitars and pianos, the performance seemed to evoke a sense of longing for something unattainable. In this case, judging from lyrics such as, “I’d like to see you/but then again/that doesn’t mean you mean that much to me”, it’s a desire to reciprocate an admirer’s love when you’re too embarrassed or in denial to do so. If The Smiths had been fronted by a female vocalist and decided to do a blues song with a drum machine-like beat, it might have sounded a little something like this.
Camera Obscura’s was only able to play two songs since they weren’t feeling too well and needed to conserve their voices for their show later, but you wouldn’t have known that if you were fortunate enough to have tuned into the group’s performance. Everyone in the band still sounded like they were at the top of their game. They may have endured some tough hardships and losses, including over the past few years alone, but it’s little surprise that the band continues to thrive today. If their performance at the WERS studios is any indication, Camera Obscura is a band that will never let anything keep them down for long.