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It’s never difficult to tell when you’re listening to a Camera Obscura LP, because Tracyanne Campbell’s lazy cadences have always had the ability to straddle innocence and experience with unusual grace, sort of justifying their bookishness with a clear willingness to please. ‘Desire Lines’ is as easy to listen to as ever, but inoffensive, which for the first time in the Scots’ career somehow seems more of a gripe than a compliment.

Where tracks like ‘Let’s Go Bowling’ or ‘French Navy’ were as candid, relatable and honest as pop gets, ‘Desire Lines’ seems to blur out of focus for more time than is entirely comfortable. Many of the songs here pause a moment too long to ponder their own existence. There are still pieces of head-bopping perfection (‘Break It To You Gently’, for one) that are as observationally astute as they are hooky, yet you can’t help but feel that the songwriting here doesn’t manage to justify the underwhelming safety of an LP that’s well within itself.


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