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Underachievers Please Try Harder

Camera ObscuraAudio CD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

Price: $15.78 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 2004 $9.49  
Audio CD, 2004 $15.78  
Vinyl, 2008 $17.10  

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Image of album by Camera Obscura


Image of Camera Obscura


Camera Obscura - The Sweetest Thing


When you've gone through things in life and in love, do they change you? And what can music do?

Things are meant to go one way in life, or so we’re told, then there are the ways in which they do. And the Desire Lines are always there, cutting through.

Not many bands keep going through thick and thin. Camera Obscura have been a group for seventeen years. They’ve made ... Read more in Amazon's Camera Obscura Store

Visit Amazon's Camera Obscura Store
for 17 albums, 4 photos, videos, and 2 full streaming songs.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 20, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B00015HVWO
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,865 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Suspended from Class
2. Keep It Clean
3. A Sisters Social Agony
4. Teenager
5. Before You Cry
6. Your Picture
7. Number One Son
8. Let Me Go Home
9. Books Written for Girls
10. Knee Deep at the NPL
11. Lunar Sea
12. I Don't Want to See You
13. Footloose and Fancy Free
14. Teenager (Mpeg Video)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detractors, step off... October 29, 2004
Format:Audio CD
First off, let's deal with all those nitwits out there who've got Belle & Sebastian pegged as some kind of sacred cow; if we're gonna play 'name that influence', then this review will be a thousand times longer than it needs to be, and I won't even get around to reviewing the actual LP!

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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cute 50's-60's stylings. Melodic -- Wonderful. June 11, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Seems like many people are mad that this isn't Bell & Sebastian. Well, It's not. It's probably closer to the stylings of The Clientelle or late era Yo La Tengo -- and they're not Scottish...?

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.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
The singer's voice is perfect for the style of music, and the studio production is excellent. The songs have a coy tone, but with a self-aware humor that is more smart kitsch than merely adolescent. The spare arrangements are a pure pleasure. C'mon gang; this music is pretty good. This isn't The Breeders or Belly so dont expect dark tones and anger.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Belle and Sebastian with a dash of "oldies" July 1, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Despite the protestations of some here, this CD resembles nothing so much as early B&S, albeit often with "thicker" production values. That is, except for the moments when it sounds like longlost rock and roll of the 50s or 60s era.


"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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars get this album. you will find yourself chained to it. October 4, 2005
By Tcane
Format:Audio CD
i've been listening to this for three days now, with very little in between. see, normally, i listen to various music which would fall under the categories indie and emo, but not just to be emo. before i found this i was on an at the drive-in binge mixed in with some drive like jehu, sparta, million dead, fugazi and cursive. i saw this album on some emo girl's xanga, and though i usually don't trust emo girl's music taste, i liked the cover, and figured i'd get it and see how i liked it. i have no idea what anybody means by folk pop, because this doesn't seem related to the folk im familiar with, except that it's pretty much oblivious to subject matter. but anyway...this album is really great...production, tracyanne's voice, the beats and selection of instruments. my only complaint is the guy's singing. it's not unbearable but close. especially on the song "your picture". i have to skip over that now, it's like they give him the least rhythmic songs to sing on too. the two bonus tracks aren't really very necessary either. this album isn't emo - i didn't even have to say that - but it is something people could appreciate for...the same reason. make sense? best songs are "suspended from class", "teenager", "number one son" and "lunar sea". light one up and put this cd on, it'll feel good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars history 101 February 9, 2004
Format:Audio CD
people do need to remember that B&S themselves owe a huge debt to Scottish musicians such as Donovan, as well as bands such as Love (from whom they got massive amounts of musical ideas, i.e. every horn arrangement they've done) in terms of sound and structure. that doesn't make them derivative, however. just more in a long line of excellent quietish chamber pop bands from the British Isles. that said, i agree with both sides, really. there are flashes of brilliance here, but at the same time it can get a bit too B&Sy for its own good. so, not a masterpiece, but not a complete waste, either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Pop
Another very pleasant album by Camera Obscura. Yes, they often remind the listener of Belle & Sebastian due to the male/female vocal interplay. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Donald E. Gilliland
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Album & Superb 100 g Vinyl
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 more
Published 13 months ago by M. W. CARLE
5.0 out of 5 stars Camera obscura
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 more
Published on June 30, 2011 by Mic M. "Ears that HEAR!"
1.0 out of 5 stars Trying hard to underachieve
1 1/2

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
Published on October 5, 2009 by IRate
4.0 out of 5 stars A completely enchanting, delightful album
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 more
Published on September 14, 2006 by Robert Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool
They are totally unknown here. I only got to know this group on the net and i have found gem in Camera Obscura, with such sweet melodies, angelic voice of Traceyann Campbell and... Read more
Published on July 4, 2006 by Robin
5.0 out of 5 stars Whoever wrote the frist review cannot have been listening to the same...
Dont listen to the first review, this record is ace. The vocals are very beautiful and genuine. Overall, this record has an intimate bewitching beauty that drags you in with each... Read more
Published on February 23, 2006 by Acade
5.0 out of 5 stars listen to the album and enjoy it, it's great.
First off, I am no real reviewer so if you disagree with me please do not be harsh. But, I believe that this album could bring anyone who is in a sad mood to a better mood in a... Read more
Published on July 13, 2005 by Jenny Lewis
1.0 out of 5 stars Nico, Anyone?
Camera Obscura is similar, in an inferior manner, to Nico, of the Velvet Underground & Nico. The band makes pleasantly dull "chamber pop" in the vein of Belle & Sebastian and all... Read more
Published on April 1, 2005 by S. Kaplan
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