In their 14-year history, Scottish Indie Pop collective Camera Obscura has benefited from high profile endorsements — legendary DJ John Peel was an early champion and Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch produced CO’s debut full-length, 2001’s Biggest Bluest Hi Fi — while stuffing their press kit with glowing praise for each successive album (2003’s Underachievers Please Try Harder, 2006’s Let’s Get Out of This Country and last year’s brilliant My Maudlin Career).
The latter two albums were impacted by the departure of co-lead singer John Henderson, leaving Tracyanne Campbell alone at the mic, but she clearly rose to the occasion as Country and Career were widely acknowledged as Camera Obscura’s best works to date. As CO drummer Lee Thomson notes, the band’s increasingly positive press has led to a little internal anxiety as expectations have risen accordingly.
“Maybe we all felt a bit more pressure at times because Let’s Get Out of This Country had done quite well,” Thomson says.
“You feel a bit more scared when people know who you are.”
With over a year’s perspective on the orchestrally dynamic My Maudlin Career, Camera Obscura has clearly pushed the material into a higher gear on stage, a process that began four years ago.
“After Country came out, we changed our playing quite a lot, and My Maudlin Career was an extension of that,” Thomson says. “We were trying to be bolder musically and play more competently and that’s definitely been the case the last 16 months while we’ve been touring. In the old days, we were quite airy fairy … people were scared to make noise. We’re more brash now; it‘s definitely better these days.”
By the time Camera Obscura rolls into town, the band will already have had its first experience with South American fans on a series of Brazilian dates. As far as the band’s American audience, Thomson has observed a discernible difference from its European counterparts.
“I‘d have to say you guys are a bit louder — in a good way,” Thomson says with a laugh. “We quite enjoy touring the UK and the States, but it almost like the U.S. was more fun because we could play to more people than back home. Your country is so massive, it’s great fun to spend a month to see it and play to a lot of people. But we get a lot of young people and a lot of oldies as well, like ourselves, and people coming with their kids isn’t uncommon. It‘s quite a nice mix.”
(The full lineup is The Trouble With Boys at 7 p.m., Paper Airplane at 8 p.m., Love Language at 9 p.m. and Camera Obscura at 10 p.m. Get details about the free show and Fountain Square here.)