Camera Obscura

Look to the East, Look to the West (Merge)

Contact Patrick Tilley about Camera Obscura

Today, the legendary Scottish indie-pop band Camera Obscura announce Look to the East, Look to the West, their first new album in over ten years, out May 3rd on Merge Records. The group, led by guitarist & vocalist Tracyanne Campbell, have reunited with Jari Haapalainen, who produced the band’s 2006 album Let’s Get Out of This Country and 2009’s My Maudlin Career, and have crafted an album that simultaneously recalls why longtime fans have ferociously loved them for decades while also being their most sophisticated effort to date.

 

Lead single “Big Love” relishes in the space between country rock and prog, a pining break-up anthem featuring the soaring pedal steel of Tim Davidson. It’s a Nashville Sound heartbreaker, tackling the complexity of wanting to rekindle a bad relationship with Campbell’s uncanny ability to render the past: “It was a big love, she said / That’s why it took ten years to get her out of her head,” she begins. “‘Big Love’ is our tribute to Waylon Jennings, with a nod to Sandy Denny and prog rock band Scope,” says Campbell. “It’s a song about not looking back, having faith in the present and future.”

 

Look to the East, Look to the West was the most hard-fought album of Camera Obscura’s career. Following the 2015 passing of founding keyboardist and friend Carey Lander, the band went into an extended hiatus. They remained in contact, but their status was uncertain until they announced their return, having been invited to perform as part of Belle & Sebastian’s 2019 Boaty Weekender cruise festival, along with a pair of sold-out warm-up shows in Glasgow. Donna Maciocia (keys and vocals) joined founding members Kenny McKeeve (guitar and vocals), Gavin Dunbar (bass), and Lee Thomson (drums and percussion) for those shows and has since become a regular songwriting partner of Campbell’s.

 

Recorded in the same room where Queen wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Look to the East, Look to the West feels big, a widescreen reframing of Camera Obscura’s sound that, paradoxically, saw the band go back to basics—there are no string or brass arrangements, with more emphasis placed on piano, synthesizers, Hammond organ, and drum machines, and, perhaps most strikingly, the group have dropped the veil of reverb that characterized their previous albums. The tinges of country and soul that give Camera Obscura’s baroque take on pop music its bittersweet edge have never been more apparent—guitars shimmer into the distance, keys haunt, and Campbell’s voice searches for the heart, reflecting on love, loss, and the passage of time.

 

Look to the East, Look to the West is the sound of a band that has grown more confident in its sound and purpose than ever. It is Camera Obscura at their best and most evocative, an album that completely rearranges the listener’s emotional core, leaving them sad and exhilarated at the same time. Camera Obscura’s catalog is replete with songs people point to as life-changing, songs that will stick with them all their lives. Look to the East, Look to the West has 11 of them; take your pick.

Tour

  •  
    Jun 17, 2024
    Atlanta, GA
    Variety

  •  
    Jun 18, 2024
    Carrboro, NC
    Cat's Cradle

  •  
    Jun 19, 2024
    Washington, DC
    9:30 Club

  •  
    Jun 20, 2024
    New York, NY
    Webster Hall