NPR logo Exclusive First Listen: Camera Obscura

Exclusive First Listen: Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura. Donald Milne hide caption

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Donald Milne

Camera Obscura.

Donald Milne

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Camera Obscura has been crafting its own blend of shimmering chamber-pop since first forming in Glasgow in 1996. Now, more than a decade later, the group is about to release its richest and most ambitious album to date. My Maudlin Career, available on NPR Music as an exclusive first listen a week before its April 21 release, is a beautifully produced mix of luminescent pop gems, featuring the mesmerizing voice of singer Tracyanne Campbell.

Like much of Camera Obscura's previous work, My Maudlin Career is hopeful but often heartbreaking. Glittery harmonies, bouncing rhythms and layers of bright horns — all longtime trademarks of the band's sound — are still present. But the group digs into darker themes.

"Some people who have heard it say it's intense," Campbell says. "I suppose it is, in a way. We were even more open and brave when making it than we were with the last record. I've never been so brutal when it's come to writing lyrics. I wouldn't even call them lyrics. Just documentation of what was going on with me for a while. I truly believe it's the best we've done so far."

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My Maudlin Career was produced by Jari Haapalainen (Ed Harcourt, Peter Bjorn & John, The Concretes). Members of Camera Obscura have also announced that trumpeter and percussionist Nigel Baile has decided to spend more time with his family and will no longer be a permanent member of the group, though he may appear with the band on tour.