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June 20, 2024

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Camera Obscura
Underachievers Please Try Harder (Merge)

By: Cam Lindsay

It's hard to listen to Camera Obscura's Underachievers Please Try Harder without using the term "twee" or references to Belle & Sebastian's finest moments, but let's try, shall we? Camera Oscura, Glasgow's best-kept secret, have been given the green light to release their first domestic album in North America. Okay, that's not entirely true, since there is another Camera Obscura from San Diego who had an album on Troubleman Unlimited in 2000, but we're talking about the Scottish band of the same name here. Using melodies that hark back to Phil Spector's self-assembled 60s girl groups, vocalist Tracyanne Campbell, along with John Henderson, creates a magical atmosphere that gives the impression its 40 years ago. Comparable to modern day acts like The Clientele and The Aislers Set, Camera Obscura are relentless when it comes to making their indie pop something to cherish. Whether it's through the lyrics every lovesick puppy can relate to ("Teenager", "Let Me Go Home") or the perfect addition of pedal steel, strings and flute into the mix of the timeless production by the band and Geoff Allan, Underachievers Please Try Harder is the perfect pop record of 2004. As a bonus, tacked on to the end are two bonus tracks not on the import, as well as an Mpeg video for "Teenager".
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