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The Hidden Cameras: Origin: Orphan

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Album: Origin: Orphan
Label: Arts & Crafts

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The Hidden Cameras’ 2006 album Awoo was a breakthrough of sorts, refining the florid, giddy sex fantasies of the band’s early albums into something more controlled and classically pop-minded. The follow-up, Origin: Orphan, was recorded in Berlin, and takes the tightness of Awoo one step further, toward an almost Teutonic austerity. The album opens with the six-minute “Ratify The New,” which starts with a prolonged, droning fanfare—almost like the kickoff to a Vegas act—and proceeds through a swirling Eastern European vamp, reminiscent of John Cale. Origin: Orphan finds bandleader Joel Gibb relying a lot on repetition, expressed most overtly in the pumping synths, rhythmic clatter, and staccato vocals of the single “In The NA.” The album contains a few pretty ballads, like the folky “Colour Of A Man” and the moody, beat-driven “Kingdom Come,” but the overall tone resembles the darker side of post-punk, when otherwise pop-minded acts like Ultravox and O.M.D. indulged their arty sides. Though the more rigid structures don’t always suit The Hidden Cameras, the band is too hooked on hooks to be a grind. Gibb can’t resist songs like the raunchy glee-club exercise “Underage” (as in “let’s do it like we’re”), or the explosively catchy “The Little Bit.” Origin: Orphan may be more about withholding, but at heart, The Hidden Cameras will always prefer pleasure.