Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country

Camera Obscura
Let's Get Out of This Country

With co-vocalist John Henderson gone (and proven inessential through his absence), now-sole singer and songwriter Tracyanne Campbell is left to her own adorably sulky little devices. And so, free to explore her slightly prim, self-aware melancholy, she takes the plunge into the adventurous pessimism of "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" (a hat-tip to the sextet's fellow Glaswegian Mr. Cole), advocates burrowing under the covers with a Dory Previn soundtrack, and stresses the need for you friend-deficient types to overlook your compatriots' similarities with "all the stupid people that you hate."

If Campbell's taking the helm allows for more thematic consistency than on Underachievers Please Try Harder, though, the strings and horns lushly amassed here by Swedish producer Jari Haapalainen occasionally overplay the band's dreaminess at the expense of their pop punch. Still, the overall spaciousness of the sound allows the necessary room for Carey Lander's roller-rink organ and Kenny McKeeve's plinking guitar to distinguish themselves, and its deep echo adds a back-to-mono charm to "If Looks Could Kill," one of those sprightly bounces the British are absolutely convinced sounds like Motown.

But Campbell's tunefully passive aggressive come-ons are the hook, and they just keep on comin' on: "I'm a stupid little thing," "You can convince me I am pretty," and I'd maybe throw "I don't believe in true love anyway" in there, too. Here's a soundtrack for a world where unhappy love is rarely as cataclysmic as we'd like it to feel, as sung by a woman who understands why it's fun to pretend otherwise.