Providing the sumptuous musical bounty The Hidden Cameras are already recognised for whilst stretching the boundaries further with a spicy array of sounds and styles, Age the new album from the Canadian indie pop band irresistibly seduces and incites the imagination and emotions. It is an expansive and welcomingly invasive evocation which thrillingly drowns the listener in feverish temptation and enthralling colour drenched invention. Every corner, twist, and adventure explored emotionally and aurally, leaves a lingering persuasion and mark whilst Age as a whole shapes itself up as an early melodically sculpted pinnacle of the year.
The brainchild of the perpetual creative driving force behind the ever enticing project, songwriter/frontman Joel Gibb, The Hidden Cameras has continued to challenge and impress musically and emotionally since being founded in 2001. From debut album Ecce Homo that first year, the Toronto hailing Gibb has pushed boundaries and thoughts through five acclaimed full-lengths with this the sixth being no exception. Igniting a dormant even non-existent music scene in his home city, Gibb became the first Canadian artist to sign with Rough Trade. Now Berlin based, the unique imagination and craft of the man has forged another questioning and spotting of sexual prejudices and social inadequacies in the Evil Evil released Age, a record which is a kind of coming of age investigation with undoubted personal incites and in the words of Gibb an album which “deconstructs my musical roots”.
That deconstruction gives the expansive flavouring and diversity which openly calls out from Age, and is soon absorbing attention and appetite with opener Skin & Leather. Immediately vocals croon as a brewing electronic shadow looms up from behind their invitation, a potent lure soon aided by guitar stroking and the lyrical voice of Gibbs. It is a gentle and mesmeric start; a warm magnetic bait seizing the imagination easily getting it ready for the impending explosion of bulging rhythms and climactic melodic fire. Instantly contagious and sublimely tempting with the orchestral aspects the band is renowned for weaving an evocative beauty to immerse within without restraint, the song engulfs the listener in a wind of poetic beauty and feisty energy. Not for the last time there is an eighties indie pop essence, the melodic endeavour and almost raging anthemic gloriousness of the song sparking thoughts of bands like The Wild Swans and Bourgie Bourgie.
Bread for Brat matches the impressive start with its own riveting imagination and incendiary tempting. Its brilliant start of acidic violin swipes alongside a deliciously moody cello coaxing which almost snarls at the ears is irresistible and only strengthens its potency as the smooth and expressive vocals of Gibbs opens up a provocative charm. Thick in drama delivered in a reserved gait though admittedly with a bold attitude, the track is an enthralling and luxurious baroque like encounter which bewitches an already strongly bred hunger before the following pair of Doom and first single from the album Gay Goth Scene add their vital stimulus.
The first of the pair emerges from a dark brooding affair, synths and orchestral inducements flirting closely with melancholic intensity. Once the melodic electro grace and vocal harmonies spread their warm embraces, the song still cloaked in emotional shadows unveils a heated dance of lively adventure with folk undertones. Not as immediate as other tracks but equally as impacting and thrilling its presence it makes way for its outstanding successor. A song which apparently was written ten years previously and you assume addresses the times in Toronto for Gibbs when he staged what became legendary nights in Churches of the city, the single like its predecessor smoulders as it first comes into view, like a breaking dawn slowly filling the senses and imagination with strong vocals within tender orchestral bait. It is another strong breath of magnetic power which digs deeper with its lure once energy and intent raise their urgency through rapacious beats and vivacious electronic seduction. Add the increasing exertions physically and inventively from the strings and the wonderful wailing witchery of guest artist Mary Margaret O’Hara and Gay Goth Scene makes the most compelling and dramatic incentive for the album.
The diversity of the release is already in full swing and takes another striking turn with the reggae lilted Afterparty, a track which saunters and breezes through the ears like a combination of the dub craft of Ruts DC meets the reggae seduction of By The Rivers. It is a mesmeric entrapment for thoughts and emotions revealing more of the inspirations which have impacted on Gibbs, more assumedly coming with the next up Carpe Jugular. An eighties seeded alchemy of synth pop and new wave exploration, the song resonates with a toxically infectious electro enticing. It plays like a cross between Heaven 17 and later Dalek I Love You providing a tantalising brightly glowing slice of melodic suasion. Bringing the kind of incandescent and virulently captivating melody driven weaves which marked the songwriting of Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh (Human League/Heaven 17), the song simply romances and invigorates the senses.
The folkish element returns in Ordinary Over You, a song which also adds drama to rich flames of evocative enterprise in its short presentation, before final track and recently released new single Year of the Spawn brings the release to a stunning conclusion. As with all of the songs there is something engagingly familiar to the sound and heart of the track but this only adds to the fullness of pleasure and satisfaction. With strings and vocals painting an ensnaring allurement alone, a fascination which only increases through the blaze of strings and brass around a heady and sturdy piano scripted emotional narrative, the song is a mouthwatering evocation.
Age is a magnificent confrontation, an album which makes love to the senses whilst awakening thoughts and emotions to wider issues and drama clad textures. Whether it is the best The Hidden Cameras album to date can be debated but certainly it is at the fore and a real treat to get the year really rolling.
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