The Hidden Cameras - The Smell of Our Own

The Hidden Cameras
The Smell of Our Own
Rough Trade

If Brian Wilson were a kinky Canadian homo, he would have recorded The Smell of Our Own, the 2nd LP from mastermind Joel Gibb and his band, The Hidden Cameras. Awash in summertime pop with lefty lyrics that straddle costume and confession, The Hidden Cameras hint at a gay state-of-affairs. “Ban Marriage” rallies against society’s sacred ritual of contractual monogamy, seen through the eyes of a man late to his ceremony because he “stayed up too late the night before fingering foreign dirty holes in the dark.” Gibb states, “we aren’t fools to fall in love but let ‘coupledom’ die.” And it’s so damn catchy! (No, not just the idea, the melody, too.)

Lyrically, Gibb’s earnestness resembles Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. Sometimes Gibb overpacks his lines, forcing them forward while the vocals stay too low in the mix. More often though, whereas Coyne sings of sci-fi showdowns, Gibb belts lucid the hedonistic and wistfully tragic underbelly of gay society. Song topics include straight married men who like gay sex and Main-Street queers into all-nite self-denial. Have I mentioned the urine?

Bookending the album are two songs that shower golden gorgeous, “Golden Streams” (complete with golden tears, a golden wand, a golden rod, a golden stone and a golden bone) and “The Man That I Am With My Man.” The latter is a sweetheart portraiture revealing a close relationship ripe with licking and probing, the joy of borrowed clothes and of course, peeing. It’s this candor that endures, as it transcends kitsch and sidesteps snide…besides, who can resist orchestrated pop with a pipe organ, vibes and sleigh bells?

The Hidden Cameras will not solve your problems. While their politics are refreshing and their music is splendid, they prefer to be your voyeuristic, level-headed neighbor who’s got better things going on in his basement than you do in your bedroom. Kinda sounds just like Canada, no?