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Camera Obscura recorded their 5th album Desire Lines in December of 2012 when they decamped to Portland to work with GRAMMY nominated producer Tucker Martine (R.E.M., Spoon, My Morning Jacket) and pleased with the progress they made there, they returned a month later to finish it. "Working in the US with southern gentleman Tucker Martine was a positive experience. We were also delighted to have Neko Case and Jim James sing on the record too. What a treat."
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None of which should be read to imply this formula is tired, or the album isn't fresh. The musicality is notably improved, with a bit less "live" feeling than previous efforts, and the sound is a bit crisper. I think this reflects the change in producer, as well as improvement in musical skill. And while frequently Camera Obscura has had some great tunes, I think "Every Weekday" marks the first real guitar riff I've noticed in their work. The addition of Neko Case on backing vocals works well.
It's not the only Camera Obscura album I'd get ("Let's Get Out of This Country" continues to be where you should start) but it is no disappointment, and I look forward to listening to it for some time to come.
Listening to this album in one sitting is recommended as the songs work together to paint a picture of deep emotion and longing without ever being too sad, as if a decade of heartbreak for a twenty-something gave way to emotional and personal stability and with it the wisdom that comes from those tumultuous years. It's the musical equivalent of a retrospective evening soaked in red wine.