I often ask myself when the great pop music will stop pouring out of Scotland. When I answer, well, myself, as I am prone to do, the response is a hopeful and emphatic `never!’ With the success of last year’s Let’s Get Out Of This Country, Camera Obscura is primed to take over the indie pop world with their decidedly sweet melodies and newfound studio mastery. The latest evidence, of course, is their newest single from that same album.
“If Looks Could Kill” is hands-down the most “rocking” song from Country, if not in the band’s entire repertoire. Tracyanne Campbell and crew have moved far beyond the twee of past releases; “If Looks Could Kill” is full of crashing cymbals amidst walls of guitar sheen and layered vocals. Guitarist Kenny McKeeve lends a pen and vocals to one of the accompanying b-sides, “Hands Up Baby,” a sparse duet that conjures images of lonesome Parisian alleys wandered aimlessly under moonlight via a plucked violin and acoustic guitar. Also appearing is “Alaska,” a song the band recently admitted on stage that they wrote in a day and, subsequently, hate. Listening to it, you wouldn’t know why, as the driving organ and tom wallops provide the perfect supplement to Campbell’s aching delivery.
Part two of this review is for a short film (12 minutes long, to be precise) chronicling the band’s reaction to their moderate success following the release of Country. With a background of recognizable favorites from the latest album, each band member rejoinders humbly and favorably, keyboardist Carey Lander opting to write her answers on paper held up to the camera. This shyness endears the band, illuminating a slight reluctance to the spotlight, which their growing popularity can only assuage. Lander even jokes about “If Looks Could Kill,” saying (on paper) “It’s our `I Will Survive.'”
For its length, this mini-documentary ably reveals the camaraderie of Camera Obscura, especially as they are asked to describe their fellow bandmates. We see a band grateful in the success they’ve been afforded thus far, but certainly not opposed to greater aspirations. The sentiment of the band is easily summed up with Campbell’s reply to what being successful means to her: “I want to give up my job and have the band be my job. That’s as ambitious as I’d like to admit.” With the success of their latest outpouring, this reality may be closer than she thinks.