Hidden 'Neath Tales of Piss Sex and Go-Go

    Oh, what a day at the lake it would be — to stumble upon Hidden Cameras helm-man Joel Gibb strumming out sparkling-new pop melodies from an acoustic guitar, each stronger and catchier than the last, his 12-odd ensemble erotically squishing mud between their toes or mindlessly wandering back into the woods banging on their instruments like the “”sex death cult”” they are.

    Courtesy of Arts & Crafts

    Of course, the band’s most recent recording session on Toronto Island went nothing like this, save the romantic location.

    “”The album was done quickly, on a computer on a beautiful island — easy and nice,”” says Gibb.

    But something about the Cameras’ straight-served silver platter of rich, clean-cut arrangements has been known to leave fans and critics alike hungrily latching onto the colorful details, almost as if compensating for the music’s agreeable simplicity.

    True, Gibb is an unabashedly gay Canadian with a fondness for musical theatrics. And yes, he does sing songs with titles like “”Golden Streams”” — though he denies that particular one is anything more than a metaphor for some sort of frozen ladder to heaven. Since the collective’s coming out in 2003 with The Smell of Our Own, the singer/songwriter has been playing a wishy-washy push-pull game with all those trying to pin down the group’s suggestive chamber pop as consistently flamboyant, casually throwing out teasers like “”Gay church folk music”” and go-go dancer cathedral concerts, only to become defensive when labeled as controversial or prodded for more.

    Has it driven him to desperate measures? The lyrics on Awoo, the Cameras’ third full-length sunbeam of an album, are noticeably lacking that certain eyebrow-raising shock factor — “”fingering dirty holes in the dark”” and “”cocks getting felt on the church grounds”” are largely replaced with repetitive onomatopoeias (all spin-offs of the title wolf-howl) and vague politics like “”I’ve had it with the present laws of this awful state/ The bleeding heart suffers eternally.””

    But Gibb is quick to brush off such accusations, defending, “”I don’t think our lyrics are controversial at all. To me, a song requires something specific or something special, and I like trying new things. I don’t consider whether or not or should I be controversial.””

    All subject matter aside, Awoo’s noise is a triumph in euphony. The players in its Canadian collective, like a well-mannered Broken Social Scene with all individual fame washed away and all instruments ironed straight, trot gaily along as equal parts of a lovingly polished whole. Even verses rise and fall with chorus-like bliss, giving way to multiple orgasms of the real thing. “”WAning mOOn”” (get it?), one of Gibb’s favorite tracks because its recording process involved documenting the sounds of pebbles and water, jangles lushly around a pleasure-button loop. How could such repetition be a bad thing, when it feels this good?

    The Cameras are currently on their way down from Canada after touring Europe for a month and a half. “”There are no satellites on this continent,”” said Gibb, reception fading over phone interview. “”I’m in New Brunswick and I guess there’s mountains or something. Who knows!””

    Their tour is somewhat stripped of former fanfare, but that isn’t to say the power ensemble can’t show us a good time — where would 13 pop-twinkling Canadian happy-go-luckies go wrong? And for all those underagers grumbling at home, Gibb feels your pain. “”Yeah, that’s annoying. I once wrote Super Chunk about a show and they ended up sneaking me in — you gotta do some sneakin’,”” he says. Just don’t ask where the go-go dancers are.

    The Hidden Cameras perform live at the Casbah on Nov. 27.

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