Camera Obscura

Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi

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You really can't discuss Camera Obscura without mentioning Belle & Sebastian. That group's Stuart Murdoch produces Camera Obscura's debut, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi; both groups hail from the part of Scotland where Felt, Donovan, the Pastels, and Heavenly are gods; and they both write smart, sweet indie pop songs with hearts on sleeve and tears on eyelash. Stop right there if you are thinking that Camera Obscura is a copyist, though. Stop and listen, because there is much to love about the band. First off are Tracyanne Campbell's remarkably sweet and rich vocals; she sings most of the leads (though John Henderson chimes in on leads and harmonies time to time) and has the kind of voice that will melt anyone who had a thing for Tracey Thorn. The songs are hooky and simple, based on classic indie pop chord changes and lovingly spiced with all sorts of sonic candy like chirping horns, gentle organ fills, handclaps, twangy-guitar solos, and swooning strings. The girl group-inspired "Eighties Fan" is undoubtedly the highlight, but almost any other tune would fit in swimmingly on an indie pop highlights mixtape. In fact, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi makes a strong case for Camera Obscura as one of the best indie pop bands to come down the pike since, well, Belle & Sebastian.

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