If Looks Could Kill
Nearly a year after its release on the Let’s Get Out of This Country, Camera Obscura’s “If Looks Could Kill” feels as fresh as its first listen. Timeless songwriting will do that, and the song packs enough of a tear-streaked resoluteness in the lyrics and a heady amount of Spector-ian wall-of-sound production to turn it into a pop music steamroller. When singer Tracyanne Campbell plainly states that “if it’s true that looks could kill and you’ll be the first to make me mad/ then you’ll have to go.” It’s a send-off so sweet and sour, it’s worthy of comparison to any Motown girl group.
The two B-sides that make up the rest of this single are of surprisingly equal quality. Kenny McKeeve turns in the sinister “Hands Up Baby,” which is caught in a echo chamber and features a crawling melody plucked staccato from the string section, while McKeeve and Campbell trade obsessive threats that feel more explosive than idle. Even when the bows are brandished for the outro, there’s a menace in the harmonics. Campbell’s redemptively beautiful “Alaska” with its breezy guitar fills and casually droning keys feels like Fleetwood Mac. On here, she lists Alaskan foliage she’s fond of to distract herself from a relationship that failed because she was unobservant. It’s almost like the final chapter in Let’s Get Out of This Country‘s story arc — if there is such a thing — where everyone learns locations are interchangeable, but problems are bound to follow you everywhere.
Merge Records: www.mergerecords.com