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Underachievers Please Try Harder Enhanced

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 15 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B00015HVWO
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,563 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Suspended from Class
2. Keep It Clean
3. A Sisters Social Agony
4. Teenager
5. Before You Cry
6. Your Picture
7. Number One Son
8. Let Me Go Home
9. Books Written for Girls
10. Knee Deep at the NPL
11. Lunar Sea
12. I Don't Want to See You
13. Footloose and Fancy Free
14. Teenager (Mpeg Video)

Product Description

Japanese pressing of the indie-pop outfit's 2004 album includes four exclusive bonus tracks, 'I Don't Want To See You', 'Footloose & Fancy Free', 'SF Song', & 'Amigo Mio'. Digipak. Imperial.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
The guy who was saying 'Stuart Called' has a point, except I will take it one step further...Nick Drake called from the dead. He wants Neil Halstead & Belle & Sebastian to at least release one original record without ripping off "Bryter Layter." Of course, I don't think these are bad tribute records, and it is hard to bring new concepts to the table when you have solid passions for other artists you add your own twist to...I just can't blame Murdock or Halstead, and much less Camera Obscura. It sounds like they at least like what they are doing, not forced. Underachievers has a chance to be the biggest offshoot from the B&S camp. It sounds good.
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Format: Audio CD
Though I am a big B&S fan, I did not discover Camera Obscura through them. Here is the story:
I was in my favorite little independent video store in North Oxford, when Tracyann Campbell's voice stopped me dead in my tracks. I pointed up and asked the clerk, "What the hell band is this?" He told me who it was and I immediately rushed out to buy this album.
Yeah, okay, the Glasgow indie scene is crowded with boy/girl bands, but what I believe sets Camera Obscura apart is their ability to synthsize years of pop music into one album (see: "Let Me Go Home") and to do it with a lead singer whose voice just makes you want to cry.
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Format: Audio CD
Okay, so Belle & Sebastian can't put out nearly as many albums as I'd like them to (about one every six months would be best). Camera Obscura isn't quite as slavish an imitator as other reviews would have it, but they're at their best when they "cover" B&S. Some of the songs on this CD, though, are just wretched ("A Sister's Social Agony," "Teenager," "Before You Cry"); it's a good thing they invented the "next track" command. However, when they're good, they're pretty damned good. Overall, I'd recommend this CD, but just know that there's a big dead chunk o' real estate in the middle.
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Format: Audio CD
people do need to remember that B&S themselves owe a huge debt to Scottish musicians such as Donovan, as well as bands such as Love (from whom they got massive amounts of musical ideas, i.e. every horn arrangement they've done) in terms of sound and structure. that doesn't make them derivative, however. just more in a long line of excellent quietish chamber pop bands from the British Isles. that said, i agree with both sides, really. there are flashes of brilliance here, but at the same time it can get a bit too B&Sy for its own good. so, not a masterpiece, but not a complete waste, either.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a marvolous album, but having head Camera Obscura's debut LP, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, i'm just a little bit dissapointed. This CD has some great songs, 'books written for girls', 'keep it clean', and 'you're picture' but the over all quality of the CD just isn't as good as their first. I've read the other reviews bashing Camera Obscura from sounding too much like Belle and Sebastian and i really don't think that's fair. Sure, they do sound a lot alike, but there are distict differences. Much of pop music is similar anyways.
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Format: Audio CD
The gorgeous chamber pop of Camera Obscura is going to be compared, rightly so, to Belle & Sebastian, and I don't think the band is going to care. If they did, they wouldn't have hired B&S's main man Stuart Murdoch to produce their lovely sophomore effort, Underachievers Please Try Harder. Tracyanne Campbell's wistful songs plough much of B&S's fertile ground, but her take on the indignities of youth and romance are her own. And the songs get better the more you play them.
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