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Camera Obscura: Desire Lines (4AD) 

For a band that's so clearly defined itself on a string of excellent releases, Camera Obscura nevertheless breaks new ground on Desire Lines.

The distinction may be a fine one, but Desire Lines, the band's first release in four years, is less a hazy, delicate indie-pop record and more one that reaches for a better-rounded collection of dreamy rock songs.

Recorded in Portland, Ore., with producer Tucker Martine, the Scottish band's fifth album centers itself around singer Tracyanne Campbell's arresting voice, a vehicle for melancholy romanticism in the past as well as now. But one of the album's subtle strengths is Campbell's willingness to stretch beyond that, exploring some more optimistic pop realms.

On "Do It Again," Campbell drops the coy, tentative delivery that she wields so well to sing a more assertive lead vocal, and the results are thrilling. Martine pushes Campbell to the front of the mix and her soaring vocals have never been so infectious.

Other highlights are the soulful, horn-driven "This Is Love (Feels Alright)"; "Every Weekday," another up-tempo delight; and the swaying "Fifth in Line to the Throne," with guest backup singer Neko Case blending gorgeously with Campbell.

Desire Lines is another ace from a consistently alluring band, a record that succeeds in fulfilling expectations for Camera Obscura's longtime fans as well as adding something a little extra along the way.

More by Eric Swedlund

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