Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill EP (2007)

Camera Obscura - If Looks Could KillHas indie pop finally gained the notice it deserves outside of Pitchfork-like music world? Indie bands like The Arcade Fire and Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s receive all kinds of critical acclaim, but has never translated that into commercial success and remain relatively unnoticed outside of the small metropolitan music club scene.

It’s a shame too because these bands work hard to make good music, do nothing but tour and record new records. Camera Obscura is one of those bands on the cusp of rising popularity. Surprisingly the band has been around since 1996 and has released three albums, including 2006’s Pitchfork-loved Let’s Get Out Of This Country.

From that album is the energetic and playful “If Looks Could Kill,” which also lends itself to this new EP. Starting off with a few drumbeats and guitar chords reminiscent to 50s and 60s pop songs, “If Looks Could Kill” takes you back to driving in a convertible on Saturday afternoon to the beach. The carefree joy of the band’s tempo overshadows the confusingly angry lyrics “If it’s true looks could kill and you will be the first to make me mad / Then you’ll have to go.”

“Hands Up Baby” builds on that negative theme, but instead hides in the illusionary ballad. Kenny McKeeve and Tracyanne Campbell duet in this couple’s quarrel with such nonstop anger that there isn’t a hint of love left (“I’ve had enough this time / Give me back my boots you swine / It’s your fault you hate me”). While “Alaska” isn’t as depressing, it does echo that sense of lost love. Tracyanne uses the majestic and largely uninhabited state as a metaphor for a distant and probably irretrievable love (“Do you dream of a cold Alaska / Better wrap up warm tonight”). If it weren’t for this strategically placed box of kittens near my desk, my heart probably would have collapsed onto itself.

Camera Obscura

[photo via Ground Control Touring]

Camera Obscura

[photo via Rolling Stone]
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Track list:

    1. If Looks Could Kill
    2. Hands Up Baby
    3. Alaska

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