Off Key Online

Camera Obscura – “The Nights Are Cold” single (4AD)

In Recent reviews on May 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Camera Obscura loves to do covers. In the midst of promoting last year’s stellar “My Maudlin Career,” they tackled such tunes as Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher Than The Rest,” Jim Reeves’ “The Blizzard,” and Gene Autry’s “You’re The Only Star In My Blue Heaven.” Top that off with the array of covers the band issued whilst promoting 2006’s “Let’s Get Out Of This Country” and their wide-ranging repertoire is solidly apparent.

Continuing in this gilded tradition of golden oldies, the Scottish indie pop darlings offer up “The Nights Are Cold,” the fifth single to be released in their “My Maudlin Career” era. The title track is a song written and originally performed by Richard Hawley on his 2001 album “Late Night Final,” an LP that Camera Obscura keys player and backup vocalist Carey Lander loved upon hearing and introduced to her bandmates, who also loved it. Fast forward eight years and they chose to cover one of their favorite songs from the record, backed with a remix of their own “The Sweetest Thing” by Hawley himself.

Under the purview of Camera Obscura’s other covers, “The Nights Are Cold” is slightly above average. This in no way means it’s a bad or, worse so, an uninteresting interpretation; it’s just that the tender, tearjerking nature of the song is afforded by Hawley’s brilliant songwriting and not so much Camera Obscura’s delivery. Like so many covers by so many other bands, the original artist’s version remains superior, though this new version is quite pleasant as well and provides a fantastic souvenir to hearing the band perform it live.

The single’s b-side, the aforementioned Richard Hawley remix of “The Sweetest Thing,” is where sparks really fly. To the untrained ear, the song sounds the same as that which was released as its own single last fall. However, Hawley’s production adds new drum and piano tracks and greater emphasis on the backing vocal, in addition to a bit of jingle bells for good measure. Though a cover by Hawley would have been far more impressive, this brand new remix is a fantastic addition to Camera Obscura’s fine catalogue and a superb supplement to whatever summer soirees come your way.

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