Hidden Cameras, the project of Toronto-based singer-songwriter Joel Gibb
that debuted with the EP Ecce Homo (2001), are devoted to
lushly arranged pop ditties similar in sound (but not in spirit) to the Magnetic Fields.
In fact, the main quality of
The Smell of Our Own (Rough Trade, 2003) is to have no precedents,
despite the fact that it is, ultimately, just another collection of catchy
melodies. The point is that Golden Streams, Smells Like Happiness,
Boys of Melody and especially Ban Marriage do not hark back to the past,
but are very much grounded in the present. The idea (but not the sound) is
similar to Belle And Sebastian.
The sound is a tribute to different bands, but none in particular, although
one can't escape the fathers of them all, the Beach Boys (the dense Day is Dawning with organ, vibraphone, trombone, violin...)
Mississauga Goddam (Rough Trade, 2004) is an upbeat work that weds
Belle And Sebastian and
VanDyke Parks, ethereal pondering and
Music Is My Boyfriend and The Fear Is On advertise the
radio-friendly quality of the collection, but the band might be better
served by the contrast between the meek and the ebullient of
Doot Doot Plot, I Believe In The Good Of Life,
We Oh We.
Too often, though, the album is not only predictable but also repetitive.
Awoo (2006) was even more derivative album of pop ballads in search
of a reason to exist, plus a couple of half-baked anthems
Origin Orphan (2009) was another bland collection of faceless songs,
despite the single In The NA.
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