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Camera Obscura

When you grow up, what does that sound like? When you've gone through things in life and in love, do they change you? And what can music do?

Things are meant to go one way in life, or so we’re told, then there are the ways in which they do. And the Desire Lines are always there, cutting through.

Not many bands keep going through everything, through thick and thin. Camera Obscura have been a group for seventeen years. They’ve made music that rouses the soul, fills the heart, and squeezes on your dancing shoes.

But this time, things are different.

Four years ago, Camera Obscura signed to 4AD and released the album My Maudlin Career. Four years later, after a forced hiatus, they are bolder, braver people, and infinitely more ambitious ones too. You hear this right through their new record, an album born of life and experience.

Desire Lines is a record with something to prove.

In 2001, Camera Obscura released their first album, John Peel favourite Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi. In 2003 came Underachievers Please Try Harder. These records were embraced by the indiepop kids, held tight to their anoraked hearts. Camera Obscura didn't want just to be theirs though – but they know now, more than ever, how important that love was.

2006's Let's Get Out Of This Country appeared as the support of 6 Music and music websites were first flowering, as the group toured and toured, their luscious sounds gaining more shape and weight. 2009's My Maudlin Career went further, telling us about Forests And Sands and Other Towns and Cities. It was a record that expanded their world, and showed us where we could all go together.

In 2010, Desire Lines began as every Camera Obscura album always has, in singer Tracyanne Campbell's flat, with every member rallying round. Camera Obscura never really existed just as an entity it the recording studio, anyway. They have always been friends, and remain so. Their friendships aren't soft, soppy things either.

They are resilient, strong, and this new record shows that. Here is a female-fronted band with a big, sturdy heart, which keeps pumping on, powered by love.

For the next two years, Camera Obscura fought the tougher sides of sickness and sadness, and survived, as many of us do. They got through. The demos for Desire Lines were revisited again in summer 2012, and the songs that came from them felt like bigger, brighter things. 'Troublemaker told us it was going to be one hell of a year. 'New Year’s Resolution' talked about admitting things, and kissing like you meant it. 'Cri Du Coeur' took us on a literal journey and a daydream as it wrestled with the past. They came with tunes too: open-wide, full of space, joy and loveliness.

Last winter, the band took their music to a new place in another way too – to Portland, Oregon to work with producer Tucker Martine, who had added so much to the music of R.E.M., The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens. Here was an American city where you could catch the bus, the band say, where people felt real.

This time, the band also wanted clarity and space in their sound, and not just capture a string of moments from disparate days. They didn't want to hide behind effects or reverb either. They wanted their music to feel freer, as they did, and take their listeners with them. They also brought in other singers to complement their songs: Neko Case and Jim James from My Morning Jacket contribute vocals.

Tracyanne never wanted to be just another jangly singer-songwriter, she says. She wanted to be Carole King. She still does. Neither did Camera Obscura want to be a band that flamed brightly but briefly. They wanted to be like Yo La Tengo or The Pastels: bands that have lasted for the right reasons and impulses, bands with a warm, solid core. Who were making music because they wanted to. Because it meant everything to them.

This is a big, gorgeous pop record that sounds like it means it. It wears its heart on its sleeve, and its music shines with light. Here are guitars that have a heavenly glow, drums that rouse you from your slumbers, vocals that make your blood rush, choruses that beam for miles. Here are beautiful songs about what people go through, in honest terms.

Desire Lines is an album about appreciating which path you're on, say the band. The way you really want to go, and can go. About the way they are going.

Jude Rogers, 2013

Latest News

12th October
In Memory Of Carey Lander

In Memory Of Carey Lander

Camera Obscura

4AD are deeply saddened at the news of Carey Lander’s passing - a unique and brilliant individual who will be greatly missed...


19th March
North American Tour Dates

North American Tour Dates

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is excited to announce their long-awaited return to North America with July tour dates announced today. Their latest album, Desire Lines (“a career best”-NPR), was released early last summer, and was followed by a US tour, which included support dates with She & Him.

Soon after, Tracyanne gave birth to her first child and went on maternity leave. This past January, Gavin also became a father. Tracyanne said "the new parents are looking forward to coming over after maternity & paternity leave, and the rest are looking forward to returning to work." The band are also playing shows in Europe in May...





4AD Session 016

Click to watch the session

Today marks the launch of the next instalment in the 4AD Sessions series, with Camera Obscura taking centre stage.

The five-track session was filmed in the band’s hometown of Glasgow, at the Tron Theatre, whose 16th century clock tower is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks.

Directed by seasoned 4AD Session collaborators Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, the pair knew...