I never cared for Belle & Sebastian anyway, so the comparisons bear no relevance to my experience of this record. The album's title pretty much summarizes my feeling towards this album: It conveys one languishing, snail-paced, pervasive mood of melancholic boredom that gets tired incredibly quickly.
There *are* good moments in the songs: The nervous drumrolls and swelling guitar tone of "A Sister's Social Agony", the pretty acoustic picking and dreamy waltz beat of "Lunar Sea". But these are smothered against a prevailing mood of heaviness, and too much repetition renders the hooks ineffective. Camera Obscura's singers all sound somnambulic, like Julie Doiron with caffeine deficiency, or Dido with even less edge. Aside from male/female differences, I can't even tell one singer from another. It could be one, or it could be three different women; it doesn't matter, they all have the same problem, of not inhabiting the lead vocal, not committing to what they're singing, content with just speaking the notes as if that were enough to grab our attention. This kind of voice can work if your songs are fantastic (eg. Doiron's work with The Wooden Stars), but Camera Obscura's melodies are repetitive, resolve unsatisfactorily, and just don't bear even a second listen. One listen through this record and you've heard it all.
This band doesn't seem to know how to make music outside of its very narrow confines. If the singers can expand their vocal ranges even a little, the songs can be delivered with more conviction. Take your own advice, Camera Obscura: "Underachievers, please try harder." And wake me up when you decide to actually commit something -- soul, blood, passion, anything deeper -- to the songs.