“My Maudlin Career” Camera Obscura album review by Peter Cho


Listening to “My Maudlin Career” is like sending your ears into a ghost of a time machine while listening to whispers of the past. Somehow though, you can tell that the music is temporary, and that the siren singing soothing sweet-nothings is none other than Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell.

Glaswegian band Camera Obscura is often compared to fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian, though they definitely possess their own spirit. For those who aren’t trained etymologists, maudlin means “tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental” (according to dictionary.com). Listening to the album, you can definitely feel the sentimental vibe.

Standout tracks include “French Navy,” “Careless Love” and “Honey in the Sun.” Listening to “French Navy” you can just imagine people smiling and laughing on top of their classic cars wearing their letterman jackets and swaying back and forth to the music. You can imagine most of these songs being played at a prom from the past, baby blue tuxedoes and all.

Even with all the gushing emotion, you can sense a dual aspect to the album that isn’t readily noticeable. With the melancholy drowning out your ears, the heavy instruments and sad vocals, you can still sense an underlying snarkiness. Compared to other recent releases that have been influenced by electronic music, or indie bands who have been trying “too hard” to be different, “My Maudlin Career” is a breath of fresh air.

Although not necessarily heavy in nature, “My Maudlin Career” is a light breeze of an album, relatively short at 46 minutes, and relatively mellow in content. It is melancholic, but strays far from depressing, it is airy, but far from empty. Like last week’s “Swoon,” by Silversun Pickups, Camera Obscura’s latest release is another diversion, something to fill your ears.

If you’re looking to throw a middle school dance anytime in the near future with kids from the past, be sure to grab a copy of “My Maudlin Career” to provide a soundtrack while you watch the boys and girls awkwardly split to opposite sides of the room. Or put it on when you’re driving down the countryside in your baby blue classic convertible wearing a scarf flying in the wind. Both occasions work.