The Hidden Cameras - Awoo
As time has progressed The Hidden Cameras explicit imagery and left wing politics have become more and more polished with each successive release and with Awoo, they're at the best yet.
I first encountered The Hidden Cameras with The Smell Of Our Own, their first commercially available and critically acclaimed album which found the odd middle ground between the Flaming Lips and Rufus Wainwright. Some of the more homosexual references might have made a more prudish man blush and put off the more casual listener. That was their loss however. This time around these references have been toned down a little, though the songs still deal with love, romance and loneliness, they're a little more asexual and accessible for the Daily Mail-reading listeners.
This album is full of pop gems and puts anything that the Scissor Sisters might try to create pale into insignificance. Though the arrangements are more stripped back than in previous albums, the songs seem to benefit from the more concise musical ideas; the actual songs have more room to breathe and float from your speakers and playfully tickle your ear drums. From the opening stomp that is Death Of A Tune there's the chiming guitars and Joel Gibb's howling, throaty vocals blessing the world with his witty and poptastic lyrics. Recent single Awoo is a touch more subdued but is playful and full of harmonies that the Beach Boys would have killed for. Fee Fie is a haunting ballad with sparse strings and vocals delicately arranged around it's tale of family life. To prove they're no one-trick pony we've also got the Russian tinged Heji which sounds like something you could Cossack dance to... but, like, with strings...
There isn't a bad song on this album and it's sequenced in such a way that you can press play straight after it finishes and it loops round almost perfectly. The retro feel won't appeal to everyone and there's nothing earth-shatteringly original here, whilst their politics might offend some, more short-sighted, people (see Hump For Bending) but this is a good an indie-pop album as we've had this year - a mixture of delicately produced ballads and REM-tinged guitar stomps that put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.