Published Jan 21, 2014From the outset, Hidden Cameras establish Age – their first record since 2009 – as a dark and serious affair. Leadoff "Skin and Leather" begins with Benedictine-monk-style chants. Blood follows. "Bread for Brat" builds tension with seesawing strings and flirts with catharsis via a temporarily sticky melody, yet ultimately holds off. And lead single and highlight, "Gay Goth Scene," runs through a house full of paranoia and chastisement topped off with a bat-shit assist from Mary Margaret O'Hara.
The record is much more interested in problems than problem-solving, and that's what marks its maturity. Despite orchestral remnants, it's an ambitious and curious album, and frontman/mastermind Joel Gibb is as assured as ever. Throughout, there are moments of resignation (the downtempo comedown, "Afterparty"), sonic beauty ("Ordinary Over You"), and ill-advised light electro ("Carpe Jugular"). While it may lack an instantly infectious single, a la "Boys of Melody," it is a grower with plenty to appreciate. (Evil Evil/Outside Music)