Alex Cameron – Miami Memory
Alex Cameron returns with a straightforward but ultimately rewarding third album
There aren’t many musicians who make their name in the guise of character who don’t eventually find that it feels a little like hiding. Alex Cameron seemed to be drifting towards that point on his previous record Forced Witness, but on Miami Memory he ditches the characters and focuses on his own relationship and the lives of the people around him. This is still Cameron though and he's not ditched his capacity for making hook-filled, funny pop.
Bad for the Boys is the song closest to the first-person character studies of floundering hyper-masculinity that Cameron made his name with, but here he no longer feels the need to enact their unpleasantness. Rather he can only shake his head for these men consigning themselves to joyless bitter little lives. The rest of the record marks a new unaffected sincerity, and a shift from castigating wrong-doing men to celebrating women. Far From Born Again is a brilliantly jaunty two fingers to people moralising on a sex worker's decisions, while Other Ladies is a full-on 60s soul devotional to his partner, all with a remarkably consistent level of songwriting quality.
The sonics remain similar to his previous output, an amalgam of yacht rock and the less robotic end of 80s synth-pop, but the knowing wink that accompanied much of 2013's Jumping the Shark’s more chintzy instrumentation is gone. Instead he and his collaborators have crafted soundscapes that exude warmth without ever slipping into sentimentality or schmaltz, a real testament to the combined talents of Jonathan Rado (production) and Marta Salogni (mixing and recording).
At times, Miami Memory feels like a streamlined repurposing of pop music's warmest sounds – be it the glowing synth jabs on Stepdad or the crispest of snares on Far From Born Again and Divorce – all retooled with a new level of subtlety and honesty for Cameron. What you’re left with is ten great pop songs; bitingly funny, bombastically anthemic and gently sensual, often at the same time.
Listen to: Bad for The Boys, Far From Born Again, Divorce