Joel Gibb’s Canadian indie crew finally conjure up a masterpiece
Camilla Pia 2010
For the best part of a decade The Hidden Cameras have been sprinkling audacious wit, marvellously dodgy subject matter and oodles of camp all over the indie-pop world. And for that we should be ever grateful – it can be a maudlin, drippy place, you know.
Now while their flamboyant, balaclava-donning, dance troupe-propelled shows in porn theatres, churches, parks and art galleries have been a joy to behold over the years, they have often distracted from the fact that when frontman Joel Gibb gets down to it, he can really, really write. Superb last album Awoo was testament to the band leader’s talent and ever-growing expertise, and with Origin:Orphan one can safely say he has bettered it and then some, exceeding all expectations in the process.
The fourth offering from the Canadian outfit is a glorious, heart-swelling mix of dramatic string-seeped arias, choral folk and synth-y sing-alongs. It kicks off with the epic Ratify the New, which hovers in a buzzing musical limbo for around two minutes before Gibb’s unmistakeable croon breaks the tension and the song finally bursts into life: all trotting rhythms and string flourishes. What a start.
From then on these 11 tracks comprise a pretty much perfect romp through the emotions, as exquisitely crafted and arranged ditties paint romantic pictures of tenderness, melancholy and, erm, underage sex – which coming from a man who has written about water sports (in the very adult sense of the word) in the past is tame indeed.
Less controversial these days perhaps, but there are plenty more surprises to come. Do I Belong? marks the band’s first foray into electro-pop territory and is a winning one at that, and Walk On, with its roaring guitars and horns, is by far and away the gutsiest sound The Hidden Cameras have ever committed to record. Most importantly, however, Origin:Orphan finds them finally able to out-wow the full spectacle of their magnificent shows, proving they are a serious and sophisticated musical force to be reckoned with as well as a mind-blowingly good gigging proposition The full package, at last.