In Camera can be seen as something of a minor triumph, a perfect complement to the...
Daryl Easlea 2007-08-24
Some things you need to know: Arthur & Yu is the union of Seattle musicians Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott. Their debut, In Camera, is an album that ‘grapples with the idea of growing up and letting go’. It has a musical obsession with the first Velvet Underground record, the work of Lee Hazlewood and the occasional high-period Phil Spector wig-out. Backed with a core of players, it is a small, intimate, almost entirely acoustic work that sounds like it’s been unearthed from 1967.
"Lion's Mouth" is the zenith of all this; a nagging, insistent riff with heartfelt vocals and dreamy acoustics. Olsen’s vocals possess the right balance of melody and world-weariness and his lyrics are full of potent vignettes – ‘my fingers and your buttons are like kissing cousins’, ‘a restless heart is going to burst before it’s dead’. Westcott’s harmonies and occasional lead (on the beautifully pastoral “There Are Too Many Birds”) evoke a sort of western Prefab Sprout. “Absurd Heroes Manifesto” is achingly delicate, while “The Ghost Of Bull Lee” has a wild-west feel complete with catchy-as-fire chorus.
It all gets a little too painstaking in its detail at times, but over all, In Camera can be seen as something of a minor triumph, a perfect complement to the eventual, late-flowering summer. I bet they’ll be a delight live.