Other Towns & Cities

There isn’t an adequate name for Camera Obscura’s style of music. Indie pop is too broad of an umbrella. As is folk, as is folk pop. Retro and twee are adjectives that imply the presence of kitsch. How about KNDP, for knowing naive dream pop? Or, my own best favorite, teatime music. Whatever you want to call it, Camera Obscura nails a very specific mood. Tracyanne Campbell has an otherwordly voice and a jaded schoolgirl persona; she’s basically the musical embodiment of a heroine from a mid-century coming of age novel. She’s a post-post-modern Franny Glass via Glasgow. She’s a 1960’s folk singer sent forward in time by a vengeful Joan Baez. She’s every cool girl who seems wiser than her years. She has, in short, a voice and image you can pin any number of fantasies upon, if you’re given towards the nostalgic and the cerebral.

My Maudlin Career

I would say that Camera Obscura are among my favorite new lady-fronted indie pop bands, except that they’re really not all that new. They’ve been doing their thing since 1996, largely unremarked by popular culture. In fact, they didn’t start to catch on until the mid-2000’s, when musical trends finally fell into line with their particular brand of wistful retro pop. Now everyone is all about evoking a whimsical, bossa-nova tinged fantasy of an early sixties swinging pop scene. Camera Obscura has that bittersweet romantic atmosphere down pat, as they should, since they pioneered it.