Sunday, May 3, 2009

Camera Obscura - 'My Maudlin Career'

*Le sigh* I have a weakness for Scottish women. The burning passion. The alabaster skin. The ever so slight connection to Star Trek’s Scotty. Which reminds me… the accents. YES.

Of course, to use that attraction as a means for explaining my severe crushing on Traceyanne Campbell’s songwriting on My Maudlin Career, the latest orchestral twee pop smash from her band Camera Obscura, would be a redundantly sexist viewpoint (and prolly get me smacked by my Scotch-Canadian special lady friend). See, the band continues to outpace their peers in Belle & Sebastian with a fine mix of shimmering musicianship, evocative lyrics and gorgeous vocals.

While My Maudlin Career isn’t quite as immediate as its predecessor, 2006’s Let’s Get Out of This Country, it still delivers a similarly infectious track listing. But where Let’s Get Out of This Country was about being sick of people in general, My Maudlin Career is an adult break-up record.

It doesn’t start that way, though. The glorious single “French Navy” opens the record. Campbell meets a French sailor, which sends the singer in a tizzy. “Relationships were something I used to do,” she writes. “Convince me they are better for me and you / We met by a trick of fate / French navy my sailor mate.” By the second track, “The Sweetest Thing,” she’s already trying to forget the salty dog, something that fails time and again throughout the record. I’ve always had it in for the French, and I can add breaking Campbell’s heart to my list of complaints. But while Campbell tries “going on a date tonight / to try to fall out of love with you” on “The Sweetest Thing,” she’s also “innocently learning your language / You’ve been taking full advantage haven’t you? / Don’t say it’s true” on “Forests & Sands.”

I’m gonna have to play the emo card on My Maudlin Career. Not in the New Jersey mall-core style that the double nils have developed, but in the ’90s indie sense of the term. My Maudlin Career is about a grown-ass woman who finds out her life isn’t as sophisticated as she thought. She’s still caught up in melodramatic teenage traps, falling for the bad guy she thinks she can change (or least fluently speak with). It’s a mature emo record that goes beyond the Madonna/whore complex that’s plagued the genre for some time now. That it’s sugarcoated with such stellar musicianship, including but not limited to haunting piano, soaring strings and the occasional driving drum beat that’s used so sparingly that you really appreciate its presence, makes My Maudlin Career that much easier to swallow.

No comments: