Label: EVIL EVIL/Motor Entertainment
Berlin based, Canadian born musician Joel Gibb and his band The Hidden Cameras (which consists of a variety of changing musicians) are to release their eighth studio album entitled AGE. Known for their elaborate, high energy performances, the band and Gibb have been making music since 2001 and even so, the album is actually a sort of coming of age album for the singer songwriter. “AGE deconstructs my musical roots,” he said of the release and highlighted honesty as one of its key aspects “If I can’t be honest with myself, what kind of a bad artist will I be?”
Opener “Skin & Leather” is an atmospheric track with strings running behind Gibb’s hums, “dees” and “das” before lyrics break through; “you pick me up, and carry me home, pushed to the floor, and I regain your trust” before “I’ll be skin and leather… I’ll be skin and bones”. “Bread for Brat” opens with more string sounds, this time more fraught, plucky and high pitched – the melody that follows his words “bread for brat, tit for tat” is fun, cheeky and enticing.
The track “Doom” doesn’t quite match its name in tone or lyrical value; in fact, parts of it are almost frivolous; “we had bills to pay and parties to attend”. In fact its the following track which has more fittingly somber strings. “Gay Goth Scene” is apparently already more than ten years old and Gibb wrote it whilst still living at his mother’s. Layers of drums, violin and Gibb’s dark baritone mix together eerily.
“Afterparty” has a reggae style beat, slow and soulful but still quite somber in mood. It seems that The Hidden Cameras are feeling sort of down about things right now, or at least in the mood to express those emotions. “Afterparty” even ends with the sound of smashing glass (is it an angry smash or a party smash?). Alas, “Carpe Jugular” uses some more upbeat synth noises and gets the tempo up a little. The vibe is dark disco, and it’s also damn catchy.
“Ordinary Over You” follows on with more synth and some breakdowns for stand alone vocals and sprinkles of strings too. The closing track “Year of the Spawn” sees a thick mix of piano (played by Chilly Gonzales), violin, trumpets, trombones and a steady, almost icy drumbeat. It seems that AGE is an album about dejection, yet also of longing and a dreary, dark melancholy. The Hidden Cameras make pop music, sure, but not quite as you know it.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.