The Hidden Cameras


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The sixth studio album (and first outing in nearly five years) from sunny/sordid pop confectioner Joel Gibb and his merry band of rainbow revelers picks right up where 2009's transformative Origin: Orphan left off, moving the Canadian collective even further from the traditional, guitar-led chamber pop cadence of albums like Smell of Our Own and Mississauga Goddam, and into more club-ready electro-pop territory. One can only churn out so many deliriously catchy dishes of self-described "gay church folk music" before the taste buds begin to wilt, and the electrified (they've removed the pews and installed a dancefloor), modestly populated AGE serves as an efficient palate cleanser. The melodies are still as infectious as ever, but Gibb's latest incarnation of the group feels less like a band and more like a solo production, with much of its propulsion being delivered via sequencers. When it works, as is the case with the resplendent opener "Skin & Leather," a decadent mix of Patrick Wolf, Ultravox, and "It's a Sin"-era Pet Shop Boys, the evocative "Doom" (can something be both hook-filled and monastic?), the jangly, Stone Roses-inspired "Year of the Spawn," and the tart, tuneful, and testy single "Gay Goth Scene," it feels lived-in, loved, and just occasionally lurid enough to satisfy the fans who hold "Golden Streams" as the litmus test by which all Hidden Cameras songs must be judged, but tracks like the slight, early Depeche Mode-throwback "Carpe Jugular," and the seemingly endless, dub-kissed "Afterparty" feel like they were tossed in to make what would have been a solid EP into a filler-laden long-player.

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