Camera Obscura Let's Get Out of the Country

Classic pop music comes to some people naturally; others study it with an academic rigour. While there’s nothing that sounds remotely forced about Camera Obscura, it’s incredibly obvious that singer/songwriter Tracyanne Campbell is a student of vintage pop aesthetics — not just aurally, but in her lyrical nods to ’60s singer Dory Previn and fellow Glaswegian Lloyd Cole. The latter is referenced in the smashing lead single "Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken,” an answer tune of sorts to the Commotions’ 1984 song. That’s bested here only by the rousing title track, a perfect summer soundtrack for an urban escape to smog-free, small town splendour. On 2004’s delectable pop pastry entitled Underachievers Please Try Harder, Camera Obscura were rooted in ’60s folk pop and Motown arrangements; here, they sound a bit punchier, as if they matured into early ’70s AM radio hits. There are moments that sound like very early ABBA, an impression made even before I realised they recorded this in Sweden. The strings on "Come Back Margaret” sound like they grew in Lynn Anderson’s "Rose Garden,” while some of the band’s other retro digging wouldn’t be out of place on a Twin Peaks soundtrack. Not that any of these reference points are necessary to appreciate a lovely, well-crafted pop song, but Campbell sure makes it simple for her fellow geeks. (Merge)