The first time I ever told a girl I loved her was completely impromptu. I didn’t go into that moment with any intention of doing that; the moment and those feelings forced the words out of my mouth. That eruptive passion is what the new Alex Cameron album feels like.
Cameron is an Aussie singer-songwriter with two solo albums already under his belt. (He also boasts a stint with the electronic group Seekae). On prior albums, Cameron would assume different characters. On his debut, “Jumping the Shark,” it was a cast of downtrodden losers like “the drunkest, ugliest girl at the bar.” On 2017’s “Forced Witness,” he played the role of an almost-endearing internet creep. The latter album was a 10-track run of retro synthpop ballads that made for what is definitely one of the more unique critiques of masculinity in music. Lyrics on these songs were hilarious and clever, like the opening to “The Chihuahua” when Cameron says “our love was like a fire, yeah I pissed on it so I could sleep.” On “Jumping the Shark,” there’s a song called “The Comeback” where Cameron’s character oscillates between wild optimism to suicidal thoughts as a result of trying to break back into showbiz. That wild passion, more than anything else, has been the one constant through all of Cameron’s music. But on his latest record, “Miami Memory,” that passion has been emboldened to the point where Cameron can’t use characters as his vehicle. On this record, we get Alex Cameron.
Tracks on this album are so genuine they’re almost off-putting, given who’s singing them. The opener, “Stepdad,” is a love song to Cameron’s new stepchildren complete with a banging “I’m your stepdad!” chorus. On the title track, Cameron and his lover tear up Miami with their passion for each other, all of which culminates in eating derrière. “Far From Born Again” is an ode to sex workers. Cameron castigates the hypocrisy in how these people, particularly women in the sex industry, are judged by society (men). He lambasts “you sit at home and masturbate while she plays grown-ups for real” and that “it ain’t your goddamn business if she does it for pay.” Another killer chorus comes on the song “Divorce,” where Cameron belts out, “I’ve got friends in Kansas City with a motherf***ing futon couch if that’s how you wanna play it” as he processes a fight with his significant other. The final track, “Too Far,” ends with Cameron contemplating his girlfriend leaving him, and reaffirming that she is incredible regardless of whether or not she is with him. All of these moments show a side of Cameron that is more vulnerable and more genuine. That’s not to say he’s done with irony, and not to say that his other works have been disingenuous, but these songs have a certain sincerity to them that wasn’t there on his previous records. And for his fans that’s awesome to see, and for people who haven’t gotten into him already it provides a more accessible entry point into his discography.
Cameron maybe can’t help himself on the song “Gaslight” where he writes a love song from the perspective of a manipulator, outlining a typical emotionally abusive relationship. Cameron showcases his ability to cut to the heart of tough subjects on the track. “I know you like your mama does, you need help like a baby does, and these so-called friends are lying when they tell ya your life’s changed for the better, and I know if I had friends they’d probably tell me, say boy you should go get her.” While it sticks out stylistically, it does fit into the album well. He’s playing a character, but Cameron’s disdain for this type of person is readily apparent, making the track feel as sincere as all of its counterparts.
Even the instrumentation on this record has an air of spontaneity. First, every song was recorded with live instruments. The synths of “Forced Witness” have been eschewed in favor of guitars and keyboards, but don’t worry, Roy Molloy and his saxophone remain present. Second, this album sounds like a bar band’s tour-de-force and very much provides the atmosphere of a night in a lively taproom. Every single track on this album was made to sing karaoke over. All of it feeds back into this feeling of sweet honesty that runs throughout “Miami Memory,” of filters coming off during these inebriated nights.
“Miami Memory” is an album bursting at the seams with passion. Cameron and the gang pull together an exciting collection of tracks with sheer spunk. The album is heartwarming in the love it expresses and impressive in its portrayals of the volatility that accompanies these feelings. Ultimately, I think the album serves as encouragement to be more sincere, and that’s great.