Camera Obscura have produced another beautiful record. Like all great records, this collection has a unity of theme and tone, and yet every song is different and memorable. The tunes are good. The arrangements & orchestration are sympathetic to the meaning of each song. There is good use of percussion, strings, brass & effects to fill out the sound when appropriate. In a way it is a concept album about a failed love affair. It is a tragedy - but by force of will, an outstanding work of art has been created from this material.
Tracyanne Campbell is a genius. I have been trying to ponder why. It is because her lyrics are serious - deadly serious - and yet also humourous. To my mind she stands equal to only two other great writers: Morrissey and Mark E Smith. They all have this talent for writing lyrics that combine tragedy and comedy, which requires incredible subtlety, intelligence and 'class'. Otherwise the result is cack-handed naffness. It is very difficult to explain this to people who don't get it. The Fall described it perfectly in Shiftwork (1991) as 'the war against intelligence'. In the eighties, people used to describe the Smiths as 'boring' or 'depressing' because they did not understand songs like 'Girlfriend in a coma' or 'Heaven knows I'm miserable now'. Tracyanne writes lyrics like: 'There are flowers in my house, I bought them myself' (Swans). As Morrissey said 'I know, its really serious'.
If you like My Maudlin Career, I would urge you to check out their other classic albums 'Underachievers please try harder' and 'Let's get out of this country'.
Hats off to the Scottish Arts Council for supporting the band; government money well spent. If only they would give £10 billion quid to Camera Obscura instead of Royal Bank of Scotland. The world would be a better place.