October 11, 2004

Camera Obscura "Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi" (reissue)

Here's what I said about Camera Obscura's Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi way back in 2002:

God, I love this record! I haven't been this taken by a band from first listen since I first heard the Clientele a few years ago, it was a moment in time that meant total love and devotion from me, and I'm happy to say that there's another band that's done that from the get-go. Maybe I'm getting older, or maybe I'm getting harder to impress, but nothing just knocks me over and causes me to admit my total love and devotion from listen numero uno.

Really, though, how could I NOT love Camera Obscura?? Their music is charming and lovely and a little bit sad. I like the sweet boy-girl vocal exchange, simply because---well, because they're simply lovely! I don't know who does what, because there's not extensive crediting for duties in the liner notes, but I want to commend whoever does the singing for having one of the sweetest voices out there today. And those accents, too! Listening to
Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi--Camera Obscura's debut--is much like looking at baby pictures, automatically you fawn over the little fellow or lady, and you simply cannot help but smile. I'm gushing, yes, I know, because there's also a little baby that's won my heart recently, and Camera Obscura's totally won my heart over.

I'm sure you're thinking, "yes, but Joseph, how do they sound--and don't just say 'beautiful' or 'lovely,' please, because I really want to know!!" Well, they're folky and jangle-jangley, and, yes there's a sonic similarity to that B&S band we know and don't particularly love over here. The singer, she also has a sound that's very similar to Rose Melburg of the Softies, and that's only a good thing. There's not a bum song on
Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, and thanks to Elefant for adding on two b-sides from their Elefant single, because that means more Camera Obscura, which I simply cannot get enough of!!

Okay, so I went over the top then, and guess what? I'm still over the top. Merge, the band's American Label, has seen fit to reissue this wonderful treat of a record, and personally, I'm glad they did. Though the album's identical in track listing to the Elefant label version--which added two bonus tracks, "Shine Like a New Pin" and "Let's Go Bowling"--it's probably a moot point, as you more than likely haven't heard the album anyway. Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi still shines with the brilliance of what made this band so special in the first place: beautiful singing, intelligent lyrics and excellent arrangements--those strings on "Eighties Fan" simply leap out of the speakers, surrounding you in beautiful pop goodness.

For those of you who fell in love with them long ago, there might not be anything new with this reissue, but there's plenty of magic to be found for those who only recently discovered this fine Glasgow band. Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi is still a pop treat, three years on; kudos to Merge for reissuing this fine, fun album.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.mergerecords.com
Artist Website: http://www.camera-obscura.net

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