Rock & Roll Report Card

  B+

The Hidden Cameras
Origin: Orphan
Arts and Crafts

After living in Berlin for the past few years, The Hidden Cameras front man and founder, Joel Gibb, is back with a new record and, of course, a gaggle of musicians behind him.

Origin:Orphan wasn’t recorded over one weekend—and you can tell. Each song is an experience in itself. “Ratify the New”, the opening track off the record is dark. Humming and buzzing tones set the mood and Gibb’s eerie vocals don’t even begin until two minutes into the song. But the wait is worth it. Gibb is a haunting pleasure to listen to.

The album is full of catchy power-pop tracks the band has become known for, all while discussing some heavy stuff. “Do I Belong?” is a an almost childish outcry with an awesome hook—the tension is palpable and interesting.

Gibb’s lyrics have always been cryptic and dark, but his existential focus on Origin: Orphan seem to be preoccupied with the body and all its discontents. The title track is a bit depressing with lyrics like, “Who in the world put me here to be all on my own? /Who in the world would be here if he wasn’t a whore?” The album art is equally grim.

Although this harsh content may seem depressing, The Hidden Cameras have an intense energy they’ve captured on their live album that won’t leave you crying in the fetal position.

At times, the album does get a little repetitive to listen to. Gibb sometimes sings in circles and most of the songs have little progression. It feels like they’re building to a conclusion that we are constantly denied. This doesn’t take the fun out of the album though. It’s still totally listenable.

The last song “Silence Can Be A Headline,” a 1950s-inspired ballad builds appropriately and does leave you wanting more.

—Emily Whalen

  B

The William Blakes
Wayne Coyne
Last Gang

Danish band The William Blakes have put themselves into a bit of a pickle. First, they named themselves after a famous dead renaissance man. Then they named their debut album after the frontman of the Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne. If this isn’t Google suicide, it at least sets them up to be compared to their namesakes.

The Lips’ Embryonic, released last month, is an pop-less impenetrable wall of psychedelic noise in comparison.

Wayne Coyne contains all the signature touches of Flaming Lips albums made in the last decade. Compressed, thuddy drums, distorted vocals, glitchy synths and an omnipresent acoustic guitar strumming away in the background. There are some toe-tappers in “On Fire” and “Secrets of the State” and some more ethereal pop numbers like “Science is Religion” and “Violent God”.

Principal songwriter Kristian Leth isn’t shy with his lyrics. Not that Coyne was ever a bastion of lyrical complexity, but he sings his drug-influenced observations and pacifist manifestos with a whimsical quality missing from Leth’s delivery. You could call it the ABBA effect, in that despite being quite fluent, subtlety in English is not something easily learned. “Science is Religion” is a literal explanation of Leth’s personal beliefs, so much so that it’s like a philosophy textbook.

The cover of this album is a photo of Wayne Coyne’s head Photoshopped onto an oil painting of William Blake. I can’t think of a better metaphor for the music contained within. It’s a collection of some good psychedelic indie pop that could do without so much concept.

—Tyler Ball

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