...Camera Obscura?

. . .Camera Obscura?

Pop pics: A fey Scots collective with a fetish for the 1980s and a sound that falls somewhere between Cocteau Twins and Cilla Black? Sounds like Belle & Sebastian have some serious rivals in the winsome indie-pop stakes. Camera Obscura have, like their more famous counterparts, been around for quite a few years, but with the release of their latest album (Let's Get Out of This Country) and its attendant single, chanteuse Tracyanne Campbell and her Caledonian shoegazing revue are ready for the mainstream success their many fans feel is long overdue. The single, Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken, tips a wink to that indie heartthrob of the 1980s who caused a commotion in many a teenager's heart, and is released today.

Fan appeal: Camera Obscura began as a trio in 1996 and, like Thompson Twins in reverse, eventually expanded into a six-piece indie groove machine. They stated their retro manifesto on Eighties Fan, a single from their 2000 debut album, Biggest Bluest Hi Fi. The album was produced by Stuart Murdoch, who didn't seem concerned that these youngsters might soon steal his shoegazing thunder. John Peel liked Camera Obscura so much that he invited them round to his house to perform at his annual Christmas show. The band made many further visits to Peel Acres, and performed at Peely's 65th birthday bash, shortly before his death. As a tribute to John, the band released the single I Love My Jean, a version of a poem by Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet.

Ray of light: Camera Obscura had an Irish breakthrough of sorts in 2003 when Ray D'Arcy started playing their single, Teenager, on his Today FM morning radio show. This was from the band's second album, 2003's Underachievers Please Try Harder. By this stage Camera Obscura were gaining fans in the UK, Europe and America, playing Spain's Benicassim festival, topping indie charts in the US, and scoring licensing deals in Asia and other far-flung territories. The band toured the US and Canada in summer 2004, seducing indie fans across the continent with their melodic mix of '60s swing and C86 charm. A track off the album, Suspended from Class, was recently included in the soundtrack to the British movie Imagine Me & You.


Fly south: Let's Get Out of This Country was recorded in Sweden with Concretes producer Jari Haapalainen, and features such sweet indie pop drops as Come Back Margaret, Country Mile, If Looks Could Kill and I Need All the Friends I Can Get. In March the band played the South by South West Festival in Austin, Texas and will be touring the UK for the next few weeks. The album is out on May 26th.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist