Release Date: Aug 22, 2009
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
There are two ways to go when you've built a career on making "gay church music" and recording songs like I Want Another Enema. You either become more outrageous to the point of self-parody, or make a killer mature album. Although long-term fans of Joel Gibb's lyrics might rue the absence of songs about masturbating geese (even the dangerously titled Underage is about rediscovered innocence), the Cameras' fifth is their crowning moment.
“Forget what you know / Leave your home” intones Joel Gibb on opening number, “Ratify the New”, and indeed it feels just like that. The Hidden Cameras know all about dynamics - whether over the course of a song or a full album, their ability to ebb and flow, to build and drop, is masterful. “Ratify the New” begins like a spiritual cleansing, a lengthy purging drone to clear your head and thoughts, before the Gregorian vocal is revealed, all the while its ritualistic percussion building and building until the song reaches a fever pitch.
It's not until three tracks into the Hidden Cameras' fifth album that we're reminded of the term "gay church music" once used by leader Joel Gibb to describe the band's sound. His famously twisted take on acoustic folk is now overshadowed by an infatuation with pop in general, embracing elements of 80s synth pop and new wave along with the choirs and perverted/subverted campfire songs that initially gained the group notoriety. [rssbreak] Along with the synths and studio glitter, Gibb's also indulging his appetite for orchestration more than ever before.
Can you make a mature album with a band called the Hidden Cameras? It's been an appropriate stage name over the past decade for Canada's Joel Gibb, describing aptly the explicit sexuality of his lyrics and the dark undertone hiding beneath his baroque orchestrations and genteel vocals. But most of all, the name telegraphs the band's distinctive playfulness (if we're thinking hidden cameras more in the "Candid Camera" sense than the Erin Andrews sense), a joyful glee that turns their concerts into pep rallies and makes Gibb's songs humorous without being novelty. But the inevitable trajectory of any band, any life really, is to evolve from goofy prankster fun to rote adult seriousness.
Origin: Orphan is a title with isolation, abandonment and loneliness firmly at its root. The implied ruthless self-examination that gives way to a harrowingly honest record of affirmation and growth into maturity. And while the depths of sexual feeling into which The Hidden Cameras have always delved mean that they are no strangers to adult themes, their charm has up to now been their childlike playfulness - their previous album Awoo gives this much away.
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.