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Camera Obscura | Underachievers Please Try Harder (Elefant)
Being a fan of both bands, it surprises me not when I read another review defending Camera Obscura as "not just a Belle & Sebastian clone". After all, in a fit of denial the former's members can't see any musical connection (despite intimate ties between the two clans). So before coming to the same aggressive conclusion as everyone else, I'd like to suggest there's nothing wrong with these comparisons.
Throughout 'Underachievers Please Try Harder' cut-and-paste string parts pop up all over the place ?? one of the things I love about B&S. Also, the lead single Teenager has a slight chk-chink guitar riff as good as the one on B&S's I Could Be Dreaming. Furthermore CO's Let Me Go Home has that excited chugging melody which makes The Boy With The Arab Strap so ridiculously cheery. These are just some possible comparisons that I, for one, don't mind hearing in the slightest - whether both bands happen to be from Glasgow or not.
But as promised, here are some other comparisons I could pick out to prove the seven-piece's second album is far from the sound of a low-budget B&S: The Supremes' "baby love" backing makes a brief appearance on potential single Let Me Go Home, whilst Your Picture (a pure Cohen tribute) is the impressive vocal debut of Kenny McKeeve and (on A Sister's Social Agony) some exceptional Beach Boys-style harmonies do much to show that Camera Obscura are not just another Belle & Sebastian clone (dammit).

Chris Horkan
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003

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