The first of Alex Cameron’s music videos that I watched was for ‘Stranger’s Kiss’. The musician’s style is certainly quirky and outlandish — his synth-infused tracks hark back to 80s culture and melodies, whilst placing great emphasis on the Everyman.
Cameron’s musical style is unquestionably distinctive. The Guardian described the singer as a ‘character songwriter in the guise of a Lynchian cabaret act’, and said that his show is ‘at once a deflation and a celebration of the idea of the entertainer’. His artistic persona of a failed musician has been labelled as ‘verg[ing] on the parodic’, yet it must be noted that this is an undeniably fresh and novel artistic approach, which we rarely get a glimpse of in today’s musical scene.
Alex Cameron is an Australian singer-songwriter, born in Sydney. Cameron released his debut album, Jumping the Shark, independently. Since, he has toured with Mac DeMarco, Angel Olsen and Kevin Morby. Three years later, the record label Secretly Canadian re-released the album, amounting in a cult following for the musician. He is also a member of Seekae, a Sydney-based electronic group.
The Australian singer-songwriter also became friends with Brandon Flowers of The Killers. The two have since collaborated, with Cameron co-writing a number of tracks on Wonderful Wonderful, and with Flowers contributing on Cameron’s second album Forced Witness.
Jumping the Shark includes tracks such as ‘Happy Ending’, ‘The Comeback’ and ‘Mongrel’. This electronic-style album encompasses a variety of themes, including the loss of employment and the desire to move on, particularly present in ‘Happy Ending’. In my opinion, I think one of the most lyrically adept songs in Cameron’s catalogue is ‘Mongrel’, from the 2016 album:
She just wanted to hold his heart in her hands for a while / Drops of blood in a green glass vial / He could tell her a thousand times not to stare when he gets wild
It is undeniable that Cameron has a skill for addressing commonplace issues through a most delicate and artistic language:
Makin’ money is the devil’s art, they could trade their food and wine / Growing grapes on a fence-tied vine / German shepherds and caged magpies under corrugated iron
Forced Witness, Cameron’s latest album, has hits such as ‘Stranger’s Kiss’, ‘Candy May’ and ‘Marlon Brando’. Described as a ‘satirical take on toxic masculinity’, it is evident that the musician is touching on topics that deserve the utmost attention in our contemporary society. The lyrics strung over the memorable beat of ‘Candy May’ are particularly evocative:
She’s my sweet sweet Candy May / Got me stuck and I want to stay / But I never wanted to look sharp / Down the barrel of a broken heart
Cameron says that there was ‘a degree of self-reflection […] in the record’s overarching preoccupation with failure’. It is arguable that some might disregard Cameron due to the uniquely unrivalled way in which he presents himself, whether it be the retro melodies or dancing. Yet the musician is intent on presenting reality to his listeners. In an interview he insists that his job is ‘to try and tell a truthful version of reality as opposed to an airbrushed indie version’.’
The sentiment behind Cameron’s music is one that should be nurtured. The notion of presenting life in the manner through which it is truly lived is a step in the right direction, when we are so often presented with twisted and ‘airbrushed’ versions of our own lives.
So why is it that Cameron’s talent has not crossed the borders to the UK? The Australian singer has remained largely out of the media’s eye, which is disappointing. Not only is it a shame for Cameron that he is not as well-known as other artists, but with regards to the crucial address which he is delivering to his audience, it is a message which determinedly deserves to be heard. Such innovative and pioneering music needs to be exposed to a myriad of listeners.