The Hidden Cameras
(Arts & Crafts)
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2007, Volume 14, #1
Written by Melissa Stroh
Considering that The Hidden Cameras employs strippers and go-go dancers in its live shows, itís not surprising that the outfit has a reputation that precedes it, and one rightfully would expect that the bandís crazy concert experiences would translate into albums that were equally chaotic. That assumption, however, would be wrong. In fact, The Hidden Camerasí most recent effort Awoo is a far cry from its misadventures on tour. Instead, the endeavor is filled with laid back, mellow songs that speak of gay politics and growing relationships.
Although Awoo is fairly fluid, itís often hard to decipher what exactly is happening. Distinct vocals are present, but what lead singer Joel Gibb is saying is another story entirely. Some tracks are defiant political statements, while others are meek, empty shells that fall short of being real songs.
Awoo begins with the fast-paced Death of a Tone, which rambles for two minutes before it fades into the annoyingly catchy title track. Gibb slips in subtle hints about his sexuality while belting out laughable one-liners like, "Iíd rather wallow in the mud of my own imagination." Not helping matters is the notion that songs are strung together in such an indistinct fashion that they make the listener numb to any insight that Gibb might be providing. Because the musical progression is so similar from tune to tune, it also is hard to differentiate between what is meant to be humorous and what is supposed to be taken seriously. This happens to be the major downfall of the endeavor.
After trying to spice up the monotony of Awoo with Learning the Lieís sad attempt at yodeling, The Hidden Cameras finally gains some traction around the albumís midpoint. The dark and brooding Follow These Eyes is the first example of a respectable, well-executed song. The string instruments ó which mix staccato plucking with fluid, full bowing ó are beautiful; the lyrics are insightful and romantic; and the tune itself is not as short as ó and hence, it is better developed than ó many of the bandís other concoctions.
Without a doubt, Follow These Eyes is the highlight of Awoo, and The Hidden Cameras wisely uses the tune as its template for much of the effortís latter half. This, in turn, gives the band an opportunity to shine, both musically and lyrically. Unfortunately, it also is too little to late, and consequently, The Hidden Cameras never succeeds in overcoming Awooís sub-par introduction.
Awoo is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box