Enthralling: Camera Obscura’s “Desire Lines”

Camera Obscura

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Camera Obscura
Desire Lines

Scotland’s Tracyanne Campbell has a voice that could break your heart. Sad, sweet and serene at once, she’s in peak form on the enthralling Desire Lines, Camera Obscura’s fifth album and first in four years.

While her elegant pop melodies could be repurposed as ’60s girl-group sounds or ’50s doo-wop, Campbell’s deceptively complex lyrics offer a more nuanced look at relationships than traditional mainstream melodramas usually provide. “You say honesty has made me cruel,” she sings gently in the tender “William’s Heart,” adding, “I say you’re soft and made of wool.” On “This Is Love (Feels Alright)” Campbell exclaims, “When I found your girlfriend crying / I could have slapped you in the face,” in sharp contrast to the song’s comforting textures.

For those who care about such things, Neko Case and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James show support by adding backing vocals, but Desire Lines is its own nonguilty pleasure, soaked in romanticism—yet bracingly smart.

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