Camera Obscura, Anni Rossi

Camera Obscura's take on pop music is similar to the one proposed by John Cusack's character in High Fidelity. It's the idea that pop isn't some factory-made crap staining up the charts; it's a canon, mostly built upon '60s rock and soul, upheld by geeky listeners who believe in the tasteful cohabitation of misery and ear candy.

On Camera Obscura's latest LP, My Maudlin Career, lead singer and songwriter Tracyanne Campbell simultaneously indulges her penchant for catchy melodrama and tries to transcend it. Strings and horns bound along with big choruses, giving the record a bright, retro sound. And Campbell warms her cold heart a few degrees by album's end, but not without dropping dear-diary gold like, "You kissed me on the forehead/Now this kiss is giving me a concussion."

Opener Anni Rossi's raw, minimalist approach will balance Camera Obscura's pop refinement nicely. The 23-year-old, classically trained viola player recorded her debut LP, Rockwell, with the help of Steve Albini. Her viola playing is wildly expressive (strumming and plucking in addition to good ol' bowing) and her voice can go from mellifluous to manic in no time at all.

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Elliott Johnston