Ok, before I start talking about why this album is amazing, I want to talk a little about its context. Alex Cameron (on stage usually together with Roy Molloy) is an Australian musician who released this record in 2013 for free on the internet. So far, so Radiohead. However, eventually he found the perfect label with Secretly Canadian because of course they napped him. The album was re-released last year in August and was only now discovered by me through Spotify’s scary accurate playlist algorithms.
The album itself is sort of a concept album with Alex miming a washed-up entertainer mourning the breakthrough he never had. However, according to Wikipedia, he didn’t just create this character and make up lyrics for it but wrote the lyrics based on his own (and Roy’s) experiences, therefore lending real life to an otherwise already fantastic concept.
He even dressed the part.
Ok, to the album now: since I am not as deep into the numerous album releases as I was maybe 5-6 years ago, I am not the best judge but from my point of view, the darker, melancholic new wave-revival (or newer new wave) of bands like Interpol, the Editors and the like has a bit dried up lately (in favor of awesome female garage punk, it feels like).
Maybe it’s for the best, though, that I haven’t heard that much retro 80s wave in the last years because that way Alex Cameron’s beautiful ode to 80s soundtracks, Jim Kerr/Bruce Springsteen vocals (I will not be told otherwise) and introspective lyrics can fully excite me in its weirdly unique loveliness.
Add Cameron to my list of awesome dancers (joining Father John Misty and Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath)
Cameron hits the 80s synth nails right on the head. There is a clarity to his melodies that really rings true and his vocals keep their control most of the time, only to break emotionally to give this amazing Springsteen impact (that Louis C.K. talked about in a way that is 100% accurate and will be referenced by me forever and forever).
Funnily enough, I nearly instantly thought about the music video for Faith No More’s cover of “I started a joke” and David Hoyle as majestic and sad nightclub musician. Somehow I can imagine Hoyle’s character as the protagonist of Cameron’s album. It feels right.
Anyways, the album itself is not a one note spiel on the 80s nostalgia because even though style and instruments set it in the 80s (which fits to the old artist whose heydays probably have been in the 80s), it’s not just an homage but a truly amazing singer/songwriter album.