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Alternative & Indie - Released June 19, 2007 | Hardly Art

The phrase "in camera" is sometimes used to describe movie visual effects (such as fades, dissolves, or wipes) that are done on the cheap during shooting rather than on an optical printer after the fact, and there's a vague similarity of purpose between this sort of technique and the echoey, lo-fi production that dominates the first album from Seattle indie folkies Arthur & Yu. While the simple, pared-down approach on In Camera may well have been dictated by finances or lack of experience, it also meshes beautifully with the feel of this music, and adds a level of aural personality to these melodies that might not have been present in a more high-tech recording. Grant Olsen's songs are stark but beautiful even at their most cryptic, and his harmonies with Sonya Westcott sound like the dreamy voices of stoned sirens calling out across the avenue late at night. While Olsen and Westcott's approach clearly reaches back to '60s folk-rock, it's hard not to hear echoes of the third Velvet Underground album or a bare-bones variation on Lee Hazlewood's collaborations with Nancy Sinatra at the same time, and the ghostly layers of keyboards and percussion that hover in the background punctuate the acoustic guitars to fine effect. In Camera is such an effective debut that one almost fears what might happen if Arthur & Yu are given a bigger budget and a better studio for their next project, but they show so much talent here as they make the most of so little that one can hope they'll do at least as much with a bit more. © Mark Deming /TiVo