A while back, after having caught Australian musician Alex Cameron as an opener for Angel Olsen, I was pretty enamored of his performance, and the assuredness of its shtickyness (and yes, it is shticky). If you can appreciate Lana Del Rey for her mellifluous lists of hollowed signifiers and decoupaged images of millennial-imagined withering Americana, you might likewise find it easy to appreciate elements of Cameron’s aesthetic (though perhaps there’s some withering Austral..iana there, too). Incidentally, his persona – of a washed up performer — often reflects kind of a young (?) version of the fantasy of the lascivious old man we hear every time LDR coos “Daddy” or rides a leathery biker in a music video. Just as LDR tries very hard to fit into a Lynchian aesthetic of the past, Alex Cameron exists there too, and his “Take Care of Business” video (off his last album) could easily be a Roadhouse scene in Twin Peaks: The Return. His just-released new track/video “Candy May,” from his likewise just-announced new album Forced Witness, follows suit.
Forced Witness (out September 8, via Secretly Canadian) will feature horns from Roy Molloy, aka “Alex Cameron’s business partner,” and was produced by Cameron alongside Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado. Angel Olsen also appears on two tracks on the album — singing backup on “Candy May,” and in the duet track “Stranger’s Kiss.” As exhibited on his last album, the self-released Jumping the Shark, Cameron’s songs traverse the long, lonely roads that’ve left his characters washed up and… kinda sleazy. (Check out Cameron’s fabulous “The Comeback,” in which he booms, from the perspective of a beleaguered television personality, “You been in showbiz long enough, you get a grip on how things work/That don’t mean it ain’t a surprise when they come to take your show.”)
It seems he approaches these characters meticulously, if distantly. He said (in a press release) of the character at the center of the upcoming track, “Marlon Brando” that he’s “a study of a man in the hopeless pursuit of a woman. He is a familiar character in the world, a self-assured jock, a dullard, a low grade human who uses a specific kind of language when he finds a situation outside of his control. The song’s lyrics present a damning indictment of homophobia and misogyny and their genesis in toxic masculinity.” He told The Guardian last year, “Failure has been underexplored in music. My characters come from a place where ambition, crippling self-doubt and tragedy intersect.”
The video for today’s track, “Candy May,” was directed by Meghan McGarry, who referred to it as evoking a “gut-wrenching longing” that “seep[s] through the skin,” which seems in keeping with the fact that Cameron told the Guardian last year that his music comes from the notion that “failure has been underexplored in music” and that his “characters come from a place where ambition, crippling self-doubt, and tragedy intersect.” And Cameron happens to express that love/fame-parched longing, here, through some fascinating dance moves in a parking lot.
Watch the video:
Here’s the album’s track list:
2. Country Figs
3. Runnin’ Outta Luck
4. Stranger’s Kiss (Duet with Angel Olsen)
5. True Lies
7. The Chihuahua
8. The Hacienda
9. Marlon Brando
10. Politics Of Love