Underachievers Please Try Harder
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Besides, this has some of the best songs Petula Clark never wrote. Particularly "A Sister's Social Agony", one of the best (and few) doo-wop-esque ditties I've heard since The Flamingoes.
The album starts off great, with "Suspended From Class", "Keep It Clean", "A Sister's...", and "Teenager", lulls a bit in the middle (minus a star for re-writing L. Cohen's "Suzanne" and calling it "Your Picture"; shame on you guys), then picks up a bit near the end.
For those in need of a chill pill fix, this'll do the trick.
Anyway, there are few, if any, synths -- the warm recording and instrumentation are all they need to make their music work. The girl/boy vocals are each unlike anything sung in at least 20 years and together just make me want to melt.
Also, fans of Saturday Looks Good to Me will enjoy, but I must warn you -- this album never really rocks out. It keeps a cool melodic additude throughout. Lunar Sea is bliss.
"Suspended from Class" is a poignant look at the awkwardness of wanting to be "more than friends" with its catchy refrain of "I should be suspended from class/I don't know my elbow from my arse". "Teenager" sounds like it's slipped through a time warp from the early 60s, a bossa novaish backbeat coupled with a tremeloed guitar. In it, one of the band's female singers chides a male friend for chasing after a girl who's all fluff, no substance, while adding a subtle tinge of jealousy as a subtext. "Number One Son" is a brisk number that incorporates some tasteful strings in its tale of a woman struggling in her relationship with a man who can't get paternal acceptance. If it weren't for the Scottish accent, you might be persuaded "Let me Go Home" is old Motown with its nimble bass and handclap and tambourine rhythm.
B&S fans should adore this. Indie pop fans might also think this is the "cat's pajamas" to steal a phrase from the decade they reference most. Those not in those two categories will want to listen first to see if it's their cup of tea. In the end, I just couldn't find an emotional connection to this often enough to make it a must for my collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've been trying for a long time to put my hands on this record because I am a huge fan - thank you !Published 5 months ago by DAN BONCHUT
Camera Obscura is always great but this is one of their better albums. Fun Scottish Indie.Published 10 months ago by Fenris
At the start of their career, the Scottish pop band Camera Obscura drew constant comparisons to their Glasgow neighbours, Belle and Sebastian. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Christopher Culver
Another very pleasant album by Camera Obscura. Yes, they often remind the listener of Belle & Sebastian due to the male/female vocal interplay. Read morePublished on December 30, 2013 by Donald E. Gilliland
Camera Obscura is one of my favorite bands. Disagree with the disparaging comparisons to Belle and Sebastian (another band I enjoy). They absolutely stand on their own. Read morePublished on August 31, 2013 by M. W. CARLE
Underachievers please try harder is one of those albums that make you feel good from beginning to end. The melodies and harmonies are perfect. Read morePublished on June 30, 2011 by Mic M. "Ears that HEAR!"
Dumbed-down emolk displays pseudo-songwriting sincerity in spades, exploiting the kind of harmonic whimsy whose fans should know better from the constantly... Read more
Anyone hearing Camera Obscura for the first time will instantly be reminded of Belle and Sebastian, especially if they are aware that both bands hail from Glasgow. Read morePublished on September 14, 2006 by Robert Moore