Scrolling Headlines:

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Minutemen third, Minutewomen finish fifth in Atlantic 10 Championships for UMass track and field -

May 8, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse wins A-10 title for ninth straight season -

May 8, 2017

Dayton takes two from UMass softball in weekend series -

May 8, 2017

Towson stonewalls UMass men’s lacrosse in CAA Championship; Minutemen season ends after 9-4 loss -

May 6, 2017

Zach Coleman to join former coach Derek Kellogg at LIU Brooklyn -

May 5, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse advances to CAA finals courtesy of Dan Muller’s heroics -

May 4, 2017

On campus: The liberal assault on free speech -

May 4, 2017

Music to sway to at Pearl Street

On Tuesday night, Scottish indie-popsters Camera Obscura filled the Pearl Street Ballroom with an easy warmth.

With the drowsy but radiant baroque pop of The Papercuts, the ballroom was already swaying dreamily – They sounded equal parts Beach House and The Zombies. It’s fortunate that these openers were less energetic than the headliners (or maybe there were just fewer people in the band), because the stoic stage character of Camera Obscura could have been a let-down after anybody more dynamic than The Papercuts.

Instead, the euphonic atmosphere built gradually. So when Camera Obscura’s frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell broke into “My Maudlin Career,” the title track off their most recent album, the energy was concentrated in the music. There wasn’t much seen in the performers with the exception of trumpeter Tim Cronin, who split his duties between his primary instrument and various percussion, including glockenspiel and maracas, the drummer’s cymbals.

But the band’s relative immobility did not detract from the performance. It kept up a certain dynamic interplay. Keyboardist Carey Lander, who did about as much moving around as a keyboardist could – which is to say that she sometimes removed a hand from the keys and allowed herself some slight grooving room – exchanged periodic sidelong grins with Campbell.

The subtlety in the visual performance underlined the delicately crafted simplicity in the music. Gone were the sweeping string arrangements like those of “Careless Love.” The band surrounded Campbell’s lovely vocal hooks with a balmy wall of guitar, punctuated by bouncy keys and drums. The effect was a uniformly satisfying experience that recalled the mono sound of classic 1960s pop. Phil Spector would have been proud.

The band’s set drew mostly from its two most recent albums, “Let’s Get Out of This Country” and “My Maudlin Career” – where the two biggest crowd-pleasing highlights of the night were fittingly derived. From the former, they played the wistful “Hey Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken,” instantly recognizable from the theatrical organ lead-in. From the latter, they played the more upbeat “French Navy,” the final song before the encore. The band performed the set’s tunes faithfully, delivering completely on their recorded charm; Campbell’s voice was just as disarming in person as on the albums.

The music had just enough range to maintain interest throughout the set, and the tight structure of almost every song didn’t hurt. The group dipped into the more obvious country influence of their earlier albums, but the occasional lazy drawl never distracted from the music’s core attitude. With compositions so heavily steeped in tried-and-true musical tradition, it was easy to get lost in the perfected pop style.

The apex of the show’s energy was reached with the closing track from “My Maudlin Career,” the ebullient “Honey In the Sun.” Even if the lyrics told a story of disappointment and regret, the song sounded like its title, channeling concentrated musical joy through fluttering vocal and trumpet melody lines. With a rhythm far peppier than anything else played that night, the song was a blinding light in the set’s fragile glow. Everything that followed looked a bit dim in comparison, but dim was the brilliant tint of their music.

Camera Obscura’s concert was like a warm bath. Even before the openers plugged in, the P.A. scored the stage set-up with songs to sway to, like Beach House’s “Gila” (three times, in fact). The atmosphere was consistent – dreamy and easy – and the music was simple, loud and pleasant. The encore closed with the sole glorious rock ‘n’ roll gesture of the set – a beautifully protracted noisy outro. Guitars raised, they held the last note until the room was soaked in it.

Garth Brody can be reached at gbrody@student.umass.edu.

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