With the state of pop music looking more and more depressing with every year, it is always nice to hear a band whose influences reach a bit deeper than the latest craze. In the case of Glasgow, Scotland's Camera Obscura (not to be confused with the San Diego band of same name), cues are taken as much from the British Invasion as they are from The Field Mice and more contemporary indie-pop gems such as Belle & Sebastian and Saturday Looks Good to Me.
In recent years many bands playing this style of twee-pop have surfaced with mixed results and seemingly incomplete-sounding albums. Thankfully for Camera Obscura, they don't suffer from this same curse, as Underachievers... is solid all the way through and flows quite well from one track to the next. Smooth vocal melodies and excellent transitions are just the tip of the iceberg when discussing this record. Rather than sticking to one specific sub-genre, Camera Obscura incorporate elements of blues, folk, and jazz into their orch-pop niche and make it work like only they can. My favorite track on the record is "Books Written For Girls," a slow piano ballad that produces tear-jerking results. Other standouts include "Teenager," Number One Son," and the song that should be played at every high school dance, "A Sisters Social Agony."
Camera Obscura isn't going to change the face of music with Underachievers Please Try Harder, but they have crafted one of the best pop records of the year so far. If you are looking for a soundtrack to a rainy afternoon or a mild summer day (depending on how you interpret the music), Underachievers Please Try Harder should be it.
8.0 / 10
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