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Camera Obscura

Let's Get Out of This Country (Merge)

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After three albums, it's apparent that Glasgow, Scotland's six-piece Camera Obscura is fated to revolve as a satellite in the orbit of fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian. The lyrics -- courtesy of singer Tracyanne Campbell -- are like those of head Belle Stuart Murdoch, by turns coy ("We can find a cathedral city/You can convince me I am pretty"), literate (one title adopts singer-songwriter and electric-shock survivor Dory Previn), and -- like its unmistakably twee sound -- redolent of simpler times ("Everyone else thinks it's the bee's knees").

But even if those charged with genre-gerrymandering are unwilling to grant this group the prerogative of its own independent pop designation, there is much to celebrate. Despite the persistent familiarity, Camera Obscura manages to stake its own claim. From a well-made bed of inspired melancholia ("Tears for Affairs," "Come Back Margaret," "Country Mile") springs "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" and "Let's Get Out of This Country," two of the most charming, Motown-spirited sing-alongs of the past several years. Like the album, they're sweet enough to entice and sufficiently sticky to escape discard.

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