The Hidden Cameras

Mississauga Goddam

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Toronto's Hidden Cameras do their best to avoid being pigeonholed as "that band that sings about urine" by writing more songs about urine on their infectious third release, Mississauga, Goddam. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Joel Gibb's clever observation on life, love, and gay culture are just as naughty and scene-stealing as they were on 2003's Smell of Our Own, but there's a newfound sense of poignancy that overrides much of Mississauga's patchwork nihilism. Fans of the chamber pop collective's Phil Spector wall of sex will be happy to know that all of the group's signature strings, glockenspiels, and harp swells remain, though this time around they're as clear as day, resulting in a vast improvement over Smell's often murky go-go dancer atmospherics. The first half of Mississauga is peerless. Opening with the brain-sticking "Doot Doot Ploot," it pays homage to everything from '70s soft rock ("Builds the Bone") to Belle & Sebastian-style U.K. faux-Motown ("Fear Is On") before descending into a whirlpool of doubt that finds the band second-guessing their own success. Live favorite "Bboy," a sexually charged barnburner if there ever was one, suffers from the brittle orchestral production that so successfully complements outstanding tracks like "I Believe in the Good of Life" and "That's Where the Ceremony Starts," and the sophomoric "I Want Another Enema" makes "Golden Showers" sound like Shakespeare -- even the winsome title track, which is lovely on its own, gets dragged under by heartless trio of tracks before it. Those criticisms aside, Mississauga, Goddam is impossible to ignore, both melodically and thematically. It's genuinely fun, endlessly danceable, and custom-made for cavorting and convertible driving, and hearing Gibb -- who sounds like a hydra topped with the heads of Morrissey, Jake Shears, and John Denver -- sing a line like "So he seduced me in my dream/I kissed his ugly gangly greens/he swallowed my pee" is really no different than AC/DC's Brian Johnson croaking "She was a fast machine/she kept her motor clean/she was the best damn woman that I ever seen." All night long, indeed.

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