Camera Obscura - Underachievers Please Try Harder | RECORD STORE DAY

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Time was, referencing "atmospheric pop" and "Glasgow" in the same breath would lead one inevitably to Belle and Sebastian. The sophomore album from Camera Obscura should change that perception. Although linked directly to the more established outfit (drummer Richard Colburn appeared on an early single and Stuart Murdoch produced the band's 2002 debut, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi), and working a similar stylistic corner, this quartet draws from a broader spectrum of dewy '60s pop to color their delicate constructions.

Here Camera Obscura apply their naively serene sensibilities to a simple yet sophisticated sonic ethic and layer everything with a soulful and vibrant icing. In some places the intersection between the band's retro heart and contemporary head is obvious, like the "Baby Love" vocal riff and finger-popping groove floating through "Let Me Go Home" or the contemporary doo-wop-via-Sin'Connor-and-the-Beach-Boys vibe of "A Sisters Social Agony." Elsewhere, Camera Obscura is clearly a band of the times, exuding confident charm with the airy Eno-pop of "Suspended From Class" or the Billy Bragg balladry of "Your Picture." The key to Camera Obscura's quirky personality and ultimate success lies in the dual/alternating lead vocals of tremulous Tracyanne Campbell and smoldering John Henderson, as well as the band's shimmering soundtrack of sweet melancholy.