It’s been nearly a decade since Alex Cameron developed a fondness for one character. In 2013, he slipped into the persona of a failed artist on “Jumping The Shark”, a solo debut defined by thick trowel parody and irony – something he tries to leave three more albums behind. later on 2022’s “Oxy Music,” his response to the massive opioid addiction that has swept America, and more specifically, the question “would it be easy to fall into addiction?” »
Does Cameron’s music hold up when you strip away all the conceptual jargon, costumes, and media ethos? In 2019, NME found Cameron’s earlier studio effort ‘Miami Memory’ “a semi-heartfelt album”. ‘Oxy Music’ is pretty much the same thing. Love song ‘Prescription Refill’ is adorned with blood sax moans, promising multi-voiced harmonies”You fill my prescription baby, just wait until I get my hands on you, I’ll fix this addiction honey, and if that doesn’t work… I’ll dance for you”. The lush “K Hole” sits somewhere between Pet Shop Boys and Tears For Fears. Cameron’s synthpop, sagacious as it is, still suffers from a lack of emotional authenticity.
Nonetheless, ‘Oxy Music’ is still a compelling depiction of addiction and the despair and self-delusions associated with it. The closing track is made up of boxy sunny synths, with a “wah-oh, yeah!” abstain for more pep. Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods delivers searing punk-rap about being a cheap date who can go off the pills at any time. Cameron stars as a loner addicted to codeine who tries to convince himself that even though he’s been sailing on a high, he’s not a drug addict.
The contrast between Cameron’s melodic, popping vocals and Williamson’s brutal hustle portrays the two sides of addiction – the illusory peace of being on a high and the wild growl of reality as the drugs lose their potency.
Perhaps to lighten the mood, “Cancel Culture” aims to expose the ignorance shown by artists who appropriate elements from other cultures, diluting and degrading the value of the original material. “I didn’t mean to insult you, all you have to do is cancel the culture“, Collapses Cameron. “She said, she said, ‘I’m sorry I did, but I don’t see what’s wrong?’”
New York skateboarder and rapper Lloyd Vines plays straighter, punching the playful base of the keys and drum machine with punky, rhyming about hypocrites and “Lily White“Hip-hop fans who appropriate phrases, words and language with no idea of their heritage.
Cameron’s conceptual synthpop is let down by a lack of musical vibrancy and emotional directness. He’s got the vocal chops and the ability for it: “Dead Eyes” lands with the gravitas of Lou Reed or maybe even Brandon Flowers (who Cameron worked with as a co-writer on “Wonderful Wonderful” and “Imploding The Mirage” from The Killers.’) at its candid and anthemic best.
When Cameron leaves his delightfully smooth vocals unprocessed, as he does on “Dead Eyes,” it has a delicate intimacy that creeps into and settles into the emotional center of your brain. When he scales back production and lets his humanity shine through, he’s compelling. ‘Oxy Music’ will leave you yearning for more of those magical, heartfelt moments.
- Release date: March 11
- A record label: Secretly Canadian